Tag Archives: Casals

[166] Pablo Casals – Bach: Cello Suites Vols. 1 & 2

15 Jan

Mesmerizing.  Hypnotic.  Engulfing.  It’s like being in the room while a master plays.  What am I listening to?  Who cares – I like it.  There’s just so much of this warm, rich sound, in seemingly endless variations, clean and organic and inviting.

166 casals

It is so different to what I have become so accustomed to listening to.  I can’t sing along, can’t anticipate the next note or phrase, so there is a part of me that thinks I must like it less.  But I need this change, this variety in my life.  I need to hear what others hear, appreciate things wherein others find worth.  My bubble is closer and more impenetrable than it was three years ago, and bursting it once in a while would seem to be a necessity for my continued sanity, to remain a part of the larger world.

I know this is the truth.  I just wish more people felt this way.

These strings were bowed on the eve of war, in an era of isolation and nationalism.  And yet the result is unadulterated beauty.  I listen, and I hear the eternal hope and promise of art in even the darkest times.  And I need this reminder.

I also needed to be reminded that this was not the first appearance of Casals in the 1,000.  I already gushed over his interplay with Cortot and Thibault in performing Beethoven’s “Archduke” about five years ago. Time has not diluted his ability to affect me, and for this I am grateful.

On the other hand, I should not have been surprised at my love for these two hours of compositions – I have already recommended four out of four J. S. Bach recordings.  I wonder if Moon has any more hiding in wait in the next eight hundred or so selections . . .

Next Time:  Cascabulho – Hunger Gives You A Headache

Owned before blogging? No. (12 of 166 = 7%)
Heard before blogging? No. (21 of 166 = 13%)
Recommend? Yes. (139 of 166 = 84%)


[72] Ludwig van Beethoven – Archduke Trio / Kreutzer Sonata

22 Aug

I press play, and immediately my senses are overwhelmed by such beautiful melodies, the seamless transitions between piano and strings trading those melodies back and forth.

Archduke Trio / Kreutzer Sonata

Archduke Trio / Kreutzer Sonata

It is like a private conversation, overheard in passing that the listener can’t help but eavesdrop on – you want to hear what each has to say, what interesting tidbit comes next, how the others will react.

Moon makes it clear that, impressive as the composition of these works undeniably are, it is the performance of the Trio that elevates this particular recording.  Three friends and virtuoso soloists – Thibault, Casals and Cortot – had been playing together for two decades when these takes were captured in London in the late 20s.

You can hear the chemistry, the affection between the performers, not to mention the long years of history and practice which brings an immediate familiarity to each tune.  Everything is so intricate – lines overlapping, tempos and moods constantly shifting – but the sound remains effortless.

Nothing is allowed to interfere with the pleasure of experiencing, or performing, the music.

It quickly occurs to me that the “Archduke” excites me at least as much as anything else I have discovered over the last 15 plus months.

It is unusual for me to be so moved by instrumental music – it is usually a lyric that makes my heart grow three sizes – but the Scherzo second section of the “Archduke” at times leaves me with a swell in my chest and a catch in my throat.

Here is another example of why I picked up Tom Moon’s book, why I started this blog in the first place.  Of course I have heard Beethoven’s work before, but I have only ever scratched the surface – the “Pastoral”, the “Fifth”, the pieces that are used at all times and in every place.  I needed an excuse to actively dig deeper for the quality I knew must be there, and this first of six choices does not disappoint.

Six for The Beatles and six for Beethoven. Seems appropriate for such giant names.

Next Week:  Ludwig van Beethoven – String Quartets, Opp. 131 & 135

Owned before blogging? No. (9 of 72 = 13%)
Heard before blogging? No. (11 of 72 = 15%)
Recommend? Yes. (58 of 72 = 81%)


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