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Meyer's Bach Cello Suites

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by Christopher, Sep 8, 2000.

  1. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Anyone have any thoughts on the new Edgar Meyer Bach?
  2. Yes, Where did you find that recording? I've looked all over, didn't see it anywhere. :(
  3. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Well, the reviews are up on Amazon, and they are (so far) unanimously in favor.
  4. Ok, I just ordered it, tell you what I think when it gets here. For me, so far the only one that has even come close to a good interpretation is Rabbath, so I am anxious to hear what Edgar does with this one.
  5. Yeah, I just saw it at Lemur for $18.95. Man, the prices just seem to be going up and up!
  6. The Cello Suites came today,I am listening to them as I type this. Omigod, the intonation is flawless,the recording quality is great. (A bit of distortion on the louder passages,(might be my lousy speakers).Edgar certainly takes a new approach on some of the movements. Different Bowings on the Prelude in G,also on the Bouree' and gigue,(I am comparing them to the Sterling edition that I use) and I never heard the courante played that fast!The 2nd suite in D seems almost introspective, very musical and well-concieved, like a glimpse into his mind.He says,
    "There is a soulfulness to this music that I want to bring out. The Bass is darker than the cello, not as pingy, and it
    is the moody quality that I wanted to emphasize." All I can
    say is, Well Done! This is a definite must have recording!
  7. olivier


    Dec 17, 1999
    Paris, France
    I don't know, I am puzzled by the presentation of this rendition as a tour de force, almost as to excuse its lack of brillance and dynamism. My previous acquaintance with the cello suites are thru the interpretation of N. Harnoncourt (in 1963!). I certainly admire E. Meyer for being able to interpret the suites on bass, and for this reason this CD is interesting to me. But if I want to listen to, and share with others, the magic of simple joy and profound soulfullness of these pieces, I'd stick to the Harnoncout reccording.
  8. I have many recordings of the Bach Cello Suites, and the one to which I always return is that by Anner Bylsma. I think I got my first taste of his playing when I lived in the UK, which would have been before 1983. I bought his Pro Arte set in the early 1980s. I know that he recorded the Bach Suites again in the early 1990s, and may have recorded them even more recently. Incredible performances! (but he always looks so sad (or bored, perhaps) when he's playing).

    I was discussing the Bach Suites with my teacher, and he mentioned that they sit much better on the 'cello (being tuned in 5ths) than they do the bass. This recording which you're discussing, might the performer be using a 'cello tuning? [ ...murmurs of "...heresy! ...burn the witch!"] - well, I only asked...

    - Wil
  9. Well, I just ordered it from amazon.com - ~$15 inc shipping. Thanks for the heads-up, chaps! Isn't The InterNet wonderful! Uh oh! here come de boss fella now - back to the salt-mine... :<

    - Wil
  10. OLLIE, I respect your opinion, and you're welcome to it. I have also heard the Harnoncourt versions, they just don't move me as much. I like the new approach that Meyer is trying, even though I don't completely agree with all of his interpretations,it is nice to hear something different.
    Speaking of something different, who is Anner Bylsma? I never heard that name before today. Are those recordings out of Print?
  11. Meyer uses Solo tuning A E B F#. My old teachers also used
    to say that they sit better on the Cello than on Bass, that's why the Edition that I used was The Sterling, a Fifth down from the original key. But many Bassists today are breaking with tradition, just to prove it can be done, I suppose...
  12. Andrew Jones

    Andrew Jones Banned

    Feb 28, 2001
    Northampton Mass
    I was under the Impression that Meyer used the tuning E(with extention)B E A

  13. I'm under the same impression, although he tuned the extension down to B for the 5th suite.

    Which I find odd. I always thought the first two suites worked better in orchestra tuning, seeing as how they're in G Major and D minor respectively, and you at least get the repose of an occasional harmonic.

    I suppose I could listen more carefully and see when the harmonics come up and establish tuning that way, but if he stuck with his peculiar tuning for those suites then I'd really have to wonder why. Playing the Suites on the cello is hard enough. Playing them on the bass is worse. Playing them on the bass in an unsympathetic tuning is just plain dumb.

    As far as playing the Suites, I use the same Fournier edition that I used to learn them on the cello (well, started to learn, but that's a long story). I'm extremely tempted to get the Barenreiter set although I have every faith in the Magdelena's bowing variations as being historically correct. I've gotten so tired of bass transcriptions of pieces just gutting the character of pieces, and I don't want to transpose from a bass edition if I want to play a suite in its *original* key. I already have to do all sorts of crap to my copies of Bruch's "Kol Nidrei" and Rachmaninoff's "Vocalise" and have half a mind to buy the cello editions so I may decide for myself what can and can't be done. Being an ex-cellist gives one a rather haughty and fatalistic view of bass transcriptions.

    I suppose the reason I don't like transcriptions of the Suites isn't because I entertain any notion of "fidelity" to the key of the music (something which Bach certainly didn't do) but just because I'm so used to hearing them in their original keys that different ones sound "wrong". I think I could see dropping the fourth one to D Major just to make it possible, although I'll have to get past the first three before I'll decide on that.
  14. pb

    pb Guest

    May 25, 2000
    I have a feeling like Bach has composed these suits for Meyer..
  15. jhrace2


    Oct 17, 2000
    You said they fit better in orchestra tuning, but here's something very few people notice:
    Meyer is playing up a step.
    I listened to Yo-Yo Ma, then Meyer, then Ma and I realized he was playing them up. Think about the ascending scale at the end of the Prelude (Suite 1) and you'll see that playing them the same as orchestra just with solo strings is the only way. Heck.. the stretch of an eleventh sucks normally....(from the D half-string harmonic to the 2nd octave g harmonic)

    Also about the suites:
    I'm a Bach suite-a-holic. I loved 1 when I played it from memory at a recital, and it entranced me to the others. The one thing that I love most of all is to play them at pitch. When you lower the suites, it loses character and becomes far more lumbering. Especially suite number 3, play at pitch, can blow you away. The only problem with 3 is the speed of the courante, and the opening prelude with very awkard hand positions in order to achieve something that was written for an instrument in fifths.

    The whole fun of playing the suites is so that you can enjoy the simplistic beauty without any other instrument getting in your way.
  16. Angus

    Angus Supporting Member

    Apr 16, 2000
    Palo Alto, CA
    I'm a couple months late here, but I just wanted to say that I got this for christmas this year, and WOW. Flawless intonation and great performance of each piece. I was very, very impressed.

    The best part of it all is that he makes his bass sound like a cello (except of course when he drops down to the lower notes, like the D# in #1, prelude). Amazing, at least to a double bass/bow novice like me.

    Edit: D#, not C#, because of the whole-step transposition.
  17. Joe Taylor

    Joe Taylor

    Dec 20, 2001
    Tracy CA
    Like wise WOW the best I have ever listened too! I gave it to me for Christmas and I listened to it 4 times yesterday I would be listening to it now but my computer speekers at work can't handel it.

  18. Harnoncourt was the first to make a version on baroque cello, it was a revolution and a scandal.
    I was born long after he recorded it, and listened
    to it when I was quite young. It seems he likes

    I heard Anner Bylsma in concert and didn´t like
    that much 1st and 4th, but his interpretation of
    Suite No.5 was a moment of pure emotion, beautiful sound, something you just can´t imagine
    if you weren´t there that day.

    Anner Bylsma is a great Dutch Baroque cellist,
    he made many excellent recordings of chamber music. I didn´t hear his recording of the Suites, but
    they all love it.

    Heard Peter Whispelwey in concert. That young Dutch star of Baroque and modern cello pretends
    to freedom, dream, knowledge, etc...
    new values for modern interprets.
    He achieves very high quality in his interpretation of the Suites, but I feeled rather irritated.
    One who pretends to play more or less everything,
    making an exagerated number of records and recitals will be exposed to scepticism. I recognize his talent and should know him better.
    As for a modern artist I still prefer violinist Gidon Kremer.

    I´m fascinated with the technical quality of the version of Edgar Meyer, which I consider a revolution in the history of DB.
    Anyway, I would say his taste is somewhat American way, practical... It doesn´t meet
    so much my own taste. Very nice, beautiful, but I like other qualities too.
    In that way I still prefer Harnoncourt and Bylsma.

    Listen to Scodanibbio for the sound of solo-bass
    (sorry guys, he´ll probably never play Bach !).
    I mean : listen to his own solo studies for an incredible sound of the DB.
  19. AAAAuuugh! Don't use the Sterling, it's rife with errors! Heck, don't use *any* "editions"!

    Use the original. There's an "International" brand publication edited by "Kurtz" that includes the Anna Magdelena "original" manuscript and on each facing page a cleaned up edited version. That way you can see the original and decide how much of the editor's view you agree with.
    You can also then choose to play it at pitch, or just insert a new clef if you want to transpose a suite - like with the third suite, many bassists play it in G. Just read from the original, but read it as though there were a tenor clef sign there instead of bass clef, and viola!, G major.

    As far as recordings, Gary gets a few things right, Edgar is brilliant in most places, really adding a lot of excitement in places that cellists can't, When did Mr Meyer come out of this shell?) but I whole-heartedley agree with the Anner Bylsma recommendations. You can usually find his suite recordings in the bargain bin, too! I found my copy in the bargain bin at Borders!

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