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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 7 September 2008
It is difficult to know what to add to the many useful and intelligent reviews already posted on Amazon, but anyone who owns this recording feels the compulsion to share his enthusiasm with other music lovers. While other cellists - particularly Casals and Fournier - have made indispensable records of their interpretation of these sublime suites, this one comes as close as possible to offering everything you would require in a performance: full, deep recorded sound with the slight resonance and aura around it which the Burgundian gothic basilica of Vézelay provided (Slava chose this venue particularly for its rich acoustic); flawless playing by perhaps the greatest cellist ever; wonderfully illuminating notes which both enhance your understanding of the music and also of how Rostropovich finally felt ready to record his interpretation; in short, the finest possible account of these transcendent, spiritually profound masterworks. Obviously, you must respond to Rostropovich's more Romantic, unbuttoned interpretative stance, not mind some expressive slurs and not constantly be on the lookout for minor slips in intonation. If you desire a more restrained, inward, "classical" approach, go to Fournier, but anyone who seeks repose, truth and beauty in this troubled world needs to own this set; it will repay you with inexhaustible listening pleasure.
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on 17 January 2004
The greatest 'cellist ever playing music by quite possibly the greatest composer ever. Hardly surprising this is recommended by every single guide to classical music recordings I've ever seen - indeed, it's such a performance that it should be a yardstick for such books; if it doesn't recommend this, the guide's been put together by monkeys. This is genius, one of the artistic high points of Western civilisation. My words cannot do it justice.
Rostropovich refused to make a recording of these pieces until he felt he had enough musical experience and ability to do J.S. Bach's music justice. This CD was made when he was about seventy. Compare this to the much younger Yo-Yo Ma's recordings and you can hear the benefit of such respect for the composer. The depth of emotion Rostropovich puts into his playing is like nothing I've ever heard before, and of course his tone is flawlessly beautiful. I cannot say anything specific about the individual suites, as there are no criticisms to make, and the standard is so uniformly high that no one moment is more perfect than another. Listening to this CD will remind you exactly why people listen to music.
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on 15 September 2009
When this set was released in the mid 90s my cellist friend who was -and still is- a great Slava devotee of course didn't doubt one second before he went to buy it, since it's simply the greatest music played by the greatest cellist. When I asked my friend after a week or so how it was, he frowned bitterly and said "Avoid it for Heaven's sake! Try Heinrich Schiff instead."

As it happened I just heard the Rostropovich set today for the first time, aware of the strong, unanimous ovations from Amazon's customers. After hearing a few bars my friend's reaction sprang to my mind -he was right. I heard a great musician in serious decline. Ok there is 'wisdom' and 'authority'. But I sense a painful lack of cantabile, dance and flow. And what about purity of tone and intonation? I couldn't believe my ears; try the Prelude from the 4th Suite for a sample. Scandalous!

I'd love to be able to overlook these shortcomings as being merely technical and superficial, but I can't. The music doesn't have some kind of varnish under which the 'essence' or 'heart' lies. The music IS its surface or, the surface, the technique and their beauty are inseparable parts of the music itself.

For Bach's Cello Suites I would recommend Janos Starker on Mercury. Among Rostropovich's recordings I would recommend Schubert: Arpeggione Sonata, Concertos by Shostakovich (don't miss Nr. 2!) and of course Dvorak and finally Prokofiev's Symphony-Concerto (Sinfonia Concertante).

I know only one bad record by Miles Davis and it's Doo-Bop (one of his last if not the very last), one bad by Jascha Heifetz, namely Schubert's Fantasy and here we have Maestro Rostropovich's contribution to that category -based on what I've heard which indeed is from a limited not to say narrow horizon (at least in the case of Rostropovich).

If only he would have recorded the Suites some 15 years earlier!
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on 9 April 2016
Your atoms are a loan from the universe. Sooner or later, it’ll want them back. Rupert Murdoch says that you’re an unnecessary being. The person who taught you how to read is mulch. Years ago, someone whispered your true name but you failed to hear it. Restoration – renewal – resurrection: these words are mendacious; lie they do. Heat-death will kill you long before your final day.

So here it is, against all odds, unwarranted and ill-deserved - an opportunity to fan that flame within you which transcends the dust of the Periodic Table. How that flame burns as Johann Sebastian Bach and Mstislav Rostropovich, once beggars, quieten the City of Mahagonny to address the Real. To think that Mozart never heard this music and the Devil informed him of its existence in his last moments.

Submit yourself to this experience. Bid farewell to constructs and shadows. Be transfigured as the catenation of numbers comes to an end as they taper away into totality.
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on 26 July 2007
This is a wonderful recording - Rostropovich delivers a soulful and meticulous rendition of the 6 Bach Cello Suites. This really is exemplary playing and thrilling to listen to. The music carries you right away! The quality of the recording is superb. I highly recommend this - it's a "must have" in any classical music collection.
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on 18 December 2007
I remember Rowan Williams saying something to the effect that Bach's solo cello suites are probably the closest one can get to the Divine through music, and I wouldn't disagree. And Rostropovich provides us with probably the closest one can get to a perfect performance.
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on 1 January 2005
These performances are a delight from start to finish - Rostropovich unobtrusively uses his amazing technique to unlock the emotional content of the suites and pass it to the listener.
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on 14 January 2015
Excellent in all aspects
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on 30 May 2014
I love Rostropovich having watched a documentary about him. No doubt he has his failings but I am not musically educated enough to identify them. I just love his playing.
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on 23 February 2002
I thought I would get this version as it was one of the more expensive and modern recordings, and it doesn't disappoint.
Although it can be a bit of a barrage of notes, with little variation in mood, this really is good stuff, and "Slava" really goes for it. The acoustic he is recorded in comes out fantastically well on disc (disk?), but this does highlight his, so it seems to me, varying accuracy of intonation.
Nevertheless, he is a joy to listen to, and the 'cello sounds lovely.
JS Bach is an ingenious genius (or something)!
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