In August 1954, at age of 77 Pau Casals (1876-1973) performed Bach’s G-Major Cello Solo at Abbaye “Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa”, a Catholic monastery located south of the small border town Prades in France (Catalonia of Spain is on the other side of border). Pau Casals settled in Prades in earlier 1940’s after the Spanish civil war in 1930’s, and he came back to Prada as the conductor and cellist at Prades Festival in 1950’s. A small museum in Prades is dedicated to the memory of Pablo Casals.
Cello Suite no. 6 in D major, performed by Sergey Malov on a violoncello da spalla (shoulder cello) at the Gashouder of the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam.
In this last suite, which is also the longest, Bach makes the instrument ascend to heaven. He does so by using an extra fifth string – ‘a cinq cordes’, as Anna Magdalena Bach described it in the manuscript. The fifth string lies a fifth above the A string, which is usually the highest. You might even argue that Bach allows the cellist to transcend their own instrument.
Recorded for All of Bach, a project by the Netherlands Bach Society.
Andante (a musical term meaning ‘at walking pace’) follows the cellist Ruth Boden as she climbs 10,000 feet to a peak in Oregon’s Wallowa Mountains for a deeply personal, yet breathtakingly public solo performance. With her prized cello strapped to her back, Boden reflects on how she wants to do something with music that transcends the commonplace, and on the particular joy of playing from Bach’s cello suite at ‘the top of the world’.
I found this video at Open Culture and couldn’t resist sharing it here.
Since 1999, the French juggling group Les Objets Volants (The Flying Objects) have been entertaining audiences worldwide. Beyond juggling, their shows incorporate elements of theater, visual arts and even mathematics. And the group takes special pride in exploring new ways of handling and manipulating everyday objects. Which brings us to the performance above. There you can see Les Objets Volants perform Bach’s Prélude N°1. (which more typically sounds something like this) on “boomwhackers,” those hollow, color-coded, plastic percussion tubes, which are tuned to different musical pitches. Recorded last March, the clip is an outtake from a Les Objets Volants show called “Liaison Carbone,” which explores concepts in physics. Enjoy.
August 1954, aged 77, Pablo Casals performs Bach’s G-Major Suite for solo cello at Abbaye Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa near Prades in the French Pyrénées.
In an ancient abbey in the south of France I once heard invisible plainsong. I realised eventually that it came not from speakers, nor from monks hidden behind a screen, but from a fellow tourist who sang as he moved through the building, exploring its rich acoustics. It was surprising and beautiful. How amazing it would have been to discover Casals playing Bach.
Bach Unwrapped is a year long series of over 70 concerts throughout 2013 at Kings Place, London.