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Reviews: Bach: Six Suites for Solo Cello - Janos Starker

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Reviews: 6

Review by Cellophile October 23, 2004 (11 of 11 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
There are many recordings of these fine pieces, dug out of the dustbin by the legendary Pablo Casals, and made into true concert pieces. This rendition by Janos Starker is from 1963-1965, at the absolute peak of his cellistic powers. He, Rostropovich and Fournier are the greatest cellists of the late 20th century.

This is a Mercury Living Presence reissue. I owned it as an LP years ago and I remember how stunning these performances are. The sound was and still is a little too biased toward the upper register, a fault I was hoping would be corrected, but alas was or could not be. My initial review stated that I was not sure if the SACD layer was superior to the CD, but, I must say that is because in my enthusiasm for the SACD layer I hadn't ever really done a fair comparison. There is no doubt, the SACD layer has a more integrated, smooth sound, the timbres being far more realistically portayed than the CD. The CD layer also seems constricted in soundstage compared to theSACD. Also, the bass in the SACD is rounder and more satisfying. Perhaps this is the same as " more accurate timbral reproduction.

I love these and to me, a cellist, they are must have documents of one of the greatest cellists of all time, playing what amounts to a "bible", for all cellists. By the way, Starker recorded these 5 times in his carrear, the last at age 70. That set is not on SACD, and is different in that even he admits his technical powers were slightly less, so he went for coherent construction rather than on the first set, where he strove for technical perfection (and I say he achieved it).

There will always be debates on the cello suites. Some love the original Casals romantic version, others are more strict constructionists, searching for an authentic performance. I like listening to them all and I appreciate each approach. Next I must try Wispelway, on a Baroque Cello!

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Review by FivePointOne February 20, 2005 (5 of 8 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:
This 2-CD set is wonderful. Starker's playing is great, and the 3-channel sound quality is very nice.

I'd highly recommend this.

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Review by nickc June 18, 2005 (2 of 3 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Right from the opening rising quavers of the 1st. Suite (so reminiscent of the 1st. Prelude of the "48") you know you are in the presence of timeless Bach - so simple yet somehow so profound. Or listen to the slow opening of the dark 5th. Suite, along with the 2nd. my favourite of the set. Starker seems more "classical" than Rostropovich in his EMI traversal. Of course never forget Casals - though I listened to his 1st. Suite yesterday and, truth be told, his playing could be wayward with uneven articulation of quavers etc.
The two cello sonatas are a welcome "bonus". Although not strictly kosher in that a piano is used I frankly can't stand the sound of a harpischord so I'm not complaining!
Turn the volume up and you could have a cello in the living room in front of you, with a slight Mercury emphasis of the treble. Could Jared Sacks at Channel have been inspired in his recording philosophy by Mercury? They both have up close, tactile recording philsophies which I love!

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Review by mandel June 28, 2005 (5 of 7 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
I recieved this a few days ago, not sure if I'd really want to sit down through over 2 hours of mostly solo material, short attention span generation and all :)
I say mostly solo, as this release contains the six cello suites plus two sonatas for cello and piano. It went in my player, stayed there till the end, then disc 2 immediately followed. The music is fantastic, Bach at his best. The playing is great too, flawless and with plenty of feeling.

As for the 3 channel stereo sound, well it feels like you have a cello in your room, that deep fullbodied sound is reproduced fantastically. However it is a bit closely miked, and occasionally the notes seem to move about the soundstage a little (at least on my system). Not enough to be too distracting though, a bit of width maybe adds to the recording. Analogue hiss is minimal, I had to find it, it didn't come looking for me.

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Review by analogue February 20, 2009 (2 of 2 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:  
Wow. What can I say except the sound of this recording is unbelievable. My friends are stunned and make mention that there is a real cello in the room. I own a lot of mercury titles on sacd and they all sound good but this really sets the standards for sound quality. Starker has a very good reputation of being one of the better cellists of the last 60 years and it;s hard to argue. Just like guitar music or listening to any other album where there is only one musician have to love it or it wont work out for you. The reason I say this is that I hear the complaint constantly. People just dont like to sit down and hear a single individual play his/her instrument. I know its a matter of preference so who can argue. But if you want to be moved and shocked by a cellist who understands and feels for Bach and you can sit through two sacd discs worth of said music.........give it a try. If only for the goose bump factor.

Highly recommended.

Note: Mercury has only released about 20 titles of their vast collection on sacd. No more are coming. To bad as the sacd tranfers are terrific.

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Review by notelover February 23, 2009 (1 of 6 found this review helpful)
Performance:   Sonics:    
Great recording and a chance to own a cd of two of the greatest classical artists of our time :
Janos Starker and Gyorgy Sandor. Both have collborated extensively but have committed
only a few recordings to posterity, thereby making this an especially desirable cd set.
I love Starker's playing and Sandor's sensitivity in nowhere more apparent and poignant than
in this great recording. A must have for any Starker fan or just of great music.
I wish the sound could have been a bit more curtailed though...

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