Classical

VOICES Notes and news on Classical releases

How Suite The Sound

16 FEB 10 JASON SERINUS

Is the world hungry for another recording of J.S. Bach's six wondrously deep, inventive, and tuneful Suites for Solo Cello? Judging by the enthusiastic response to Zuill Bailey's new Telarc recording Bach Cello Suites, which immediately jumped to #2 on the Billboard charts, yes.

Before the set was released, I could not help but wonder if Bailey approached the project with a fair amount of trepidation. After all, such giants as Pablo Casals, whose recordings from the 1930s did much to popularize Bach's once disparaged masterworks, and the great Mstislav Rostropovich have set down totally distinctive, benchmark versions. How can a modern-day cellist expect to make his mark amidst such august company? When your tone is as immediately appealing as Bailey's, you're off to a good start.

His sound is rich, like dark chocolate with just a hint of enticing bitterness. And his voice is distinctive -- strong and direct rather than sweet and romantic. He ultimately comes across as a modern day dancing philosopher, unafraid to plumb the depths and come out smiling. Abetted by a recording far clearer than Rostropovich's (Telarc has successfully wedded detail-rich, close miking with natural acoustic resonance), Bailey's playing reaches out from the soul of his instrument to our own. And his sometimes-audible breathing, captured with the same clarity as the sound of his 1693 Ex "Mischa Schneider" Matteo Gofriller cello, adds to the intimacy of the experience.

  • Album Small
    Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009: III. ...

    Zuill Bailey, from Bach Cello Suites

  • Album Small
    Beethoven: 12 Variations in F major on "Ein ...

    Zuill Bailey, Simone Dinnerstein, from Bee ...

  • Album Small
    Tchaikovsky: Nocturne in D minor for Cello ...

    Zuill Bailey, Martin West, San Francisco ...

in this playlist.