Many people have accused the Maisky interpretation of the Bach Unaccompanied Cello Suites as "romanticized." I have just two words for Maisky's critics: "So What?". What truly matters is that Mischa Maisky is the most energetic and most original devotee of Bach. His version of the Bach Cello Suites is not only the best in the market today, but more importantly, demonstrates that music should be played by an artist, not for the sake of accuracy, but for the purpose of art and its resulting empathy which infuses the audience.
In the '80s there were those listeners who thought that Heinrich Schiff might redeem cello performance practice from fatal beauty and lethal elegance. Aside from the burly and brawny Rostropovich, more and more cellists were advocating a performance style whose ideals were perfect intonation and graceful phrasing. In some repertoire, say, Fauré, these are perfectly legitimate goals. In other repertoire, Beethoven and Brahms, say, it is a terrible mistake. In Bach's Cello Suites, as the fay and fragile Yo-Yo Ma recordings make clear, it was a terminal mistake. Not so in Schiff's magnificently muscular 1984 recordings of the suites: Schiff's rhythms, his tempos, his tone, his intonation, and especially his interpretations were anything but fay or fragile. In Schiff's performance, Bach's Cello Suites are not the neurasthenic music of a composer supine with dread and despair in the dark midnight of the soul, but the forceful music of a mature composer in full control of himself and his music.
Sony Music is proud to announce the worldwide release of Yo-Yo Ma: 30 Years Outside the Box, a deluxe box set of Yo-Yo Ma's recorded legacy. This elaborate, numbered, limited-edition box will celebrate Yo-Yo Ma's 30th Anniversary with the label. Created with the full participation of Yo-Yo Ma, 30 Years Outside the Box, is the definitive collection of this iconic artist in a presentation as beautiful and timeless as the music itself.
One could, as cellist Steven Isserlis evidently does, consider Bach's six suites for solo cello to possess a hidden "inner" program following the Joyful, the Sorrowful, and the Glorious Mysteries of the Christian faith. One could thus hear the First Suite as the Nativity, the Fifth Suite as the Crucifixion, and the Sixth Suite as the Resurrection – or not, depending on one's aesthetic tastes and spiritual inclinations. But whether with or without an "inner" program, these performances of the suites are still completely convincing. It's true that Isserlis isn't interested in showing off his technique; although his playing is essentially flawless, it never calls attention to itself the way, say, Yo-Yo Ma's playing sometimes does.
Bach showed that the cello can dance, but composers from Rossini to Shostakovich have favored it as an instrument of pensive reflection and brooding melancholy. The playful cover photo notwithstanding, SOLO features Yo-Yo Ma in five 20th century cello works of a serious nature, all with folk influence and all echoing at least a bit of the troubles of the times in which they were written.