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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent recording
I have loved the Bach Cello Suites ever since I was an almost talent-free teenage cellist getting on for 40 years ago, and in that time I have heard (and often bought) wonderful recordings by some of the world's very greatest cellists including Casals, Tortelier, Fournier and Yo-Yo Ma. Isserlis's recording stands with the very best of them. He is a magnificent musician...
Published on 11 Mar 2008 by Sid Nuncius

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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rich and engaging
These remarkable works have now been recorded by a great many cellists - they seem to be the 'staple' big mission for any cellist wanting to show his or her worth. The works are complex masterpieces, each movement of each suite consisting of a miniature of absolute perfection.

Isserlis is a performer I much admire - I like his Brahms recordings very much and...
Published on 3 Feb 2011 by AbsoluteClassical


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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent recording, 11 Mar 2008
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 10 REVIEWER)    (No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
I have loved the Bach Cello Suites ever since I was an almost talent-free teenage cellist getting on for 40 years ago, and in that time I have heard (and often bought) wonderful recordings by some of the world's very greatest cellists including Casals, Tortelier, Fournier and Yo-Yo Ma. Isserlis's recording stands with the very best of them. He is a magnificent musician and has thought and studied for years before tackling the Bach Suites. This shows in his delightful involvement in the music, the way the dances really dance when they should and how the very soul of the music and of Bach shines through what he does. Joy, sorrow, beauty and passion are all beautifully evoked, and it's all exactly appropriate - no flashy tricks or dodgy imposition of things which aren't really there. There is just a deep understanding and love of Bach's music. The whole thing is a monumental pleasure.

The accompanying notes are extremely interesting. They show both the depth of Isserlis's scholarship and his thoughtfulness about the Suites. I particularly like the section headed "A personal feeling (definitely not a theory!)" in which he suggests that the suites may be seen as akin to Mystery Sonatas - an interesting and thought-provoking viewpoint, which never interferes with the music itself.

The recording quality is excellent. It is miked very close, giving an intimate feel - so intimate that you can hear the slap of Isserlis's fingers in the livelier parts. I love the sense this gives of his being in the room with you, and the sound of his cello is simply lovely throughout.

In the face of the greatness of some of the recordings which have preceded this one, I couldn't say this was definitive, nor even that it was my absolute favourite. But then I couldn't say that of any of the others either. I do know that if I had to choose just one recording to live with, this would be a very strong contender. Very highly recommended indeed.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A magnificent achievement., 21 Dec 2007
By 
S. J. Williams "stevejw2" (Leeds, West Yorkshire United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
This is a truly remarkable performance which has even eclipsed the revered Casals recording in my affections. There are aspects of it which catch the familiar listener off-guard, not least the extremely slow sarabandes which are clearly part of the interpretative license Isserlis takes. (There are, in fact, few markings in the score to indicate the speed, or so I believe, so ultimately I guess it is a question of how the individual listener is convinced, moved, or carried away by the approach.) I find the music making utterly involving. Over and over I find myself pausing in whatever I might be doing and completely taken over by the beauty of playing and the music, which is what good playing serves. This is not 'show off' music-making, but sublime. What a wonderful thing Isserlis has presented his father to celebrate his 90th year!
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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ultimate Recording, 22 Jun 2007
By 
E. Phillips "Ruth Phillips" (france) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
Steven Isserlis has waited a long time to record the Suites and it shows. This is the most sublime recording you will ever hear. It is how you would not only play it if you were a cellist but how you would hear it in your heart. It is simple, unpretentious and a companion throughout the rest of life. the music speaks for itself through him and this is the biggest compliment I can give. Buy it. It's a classic.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Best ever recording of the Bach cello suites since Rostropovich and Maisky, 10 Aug 2013
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
Having read the previous reviews, I can say I agree with most of the positive and respect the not so positive ones.
I listened to the Bach suites without expectations of any kind and trying not to compare to any other recording I heard before.
Stephen's playing is marvellous, technically and artistically superb. Whether it is "right" or "wrong" how can one possibly say? What Bach wrote is just dots and lines on a piece of paper, the music takes life in the heart and soul of the cellist, it transpires through the bow and sings through the cello. It's never the same. Unless we have Bach conducting his own music played by musicians on period instrument, we cannot possibly know exactly what the composer thought, felt and wanted his music to communicate.
These are Steven's Bach cello suites (not Rostropovich's, Maisky's etc.), they are different and equally great. Well done to him for taking the leap to record them!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A modern great, 8 July 2013
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This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
I love it, deep, rich tones and energy , so different from Cassal's version from whence it all comes. Was weaned on the latter and love it, but have taken this to my heart and can't stop listening.
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13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational, 11 Jun 2007
By 
Mr. J. S. Stallick (Brighton, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
Steven Isserlis has hit the spot with these inspirational performances! The brilliant cello playing and awe inspiring musicianship combine to form something rare. One really feels Bach would have loved this! A must-buy!!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Rich and engaging, 3 Feb 2011
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
These remarkable works have now been recorded by a great many cellists - they seem to be the 'staple' big mission for any cellist wanting to show his or her worth. The works are complex masterpieces, each movement of each suite consisting of a miniature of absolute perfection.

Isserlis is a performer I much admire - I like his Brahms recordings very much and find great pleasure in some of his concerto recordings. I'm not entirely convinced by his Bach playing though. Whilst individual movements in themselves are well played - rich in tone and nicely expressive - I found a slight lack in consistency, in that overall each Suite as a whole didn't quite come together and sit as a complete musical entity. Each suite conjures a particular mood and I didn't feel that Isserlis really connected with the underlying spirit convincingly enough.

In particular, I found the opening movements of each suite to be very convincing. The Sarabandes unfortunately felt a little too over-emphasized in that the flow was lost somewhat. The Gigue movements were mixed, in that some flowed and skipped-along beautifully, whereas others felt a little stilted and almost self-conscious. This is what I mean by the playing being a little too inconsistent.

As always, with Isserlis, one cannot fault tuning or quality of sound. I just wish that perhaps more thought had been given to making each suite a unified musical work.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Live" Performance, 23 Jun 2010
By 
J. Brunner (Spain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
Quite, quite, wonderful. At times I thought I had written the longer reviews myself and forgotten I had done so!! Having played these pieces (ha, ha) and listened to numerous recordings, I felt awed and embarrassed at discovering that I didn't know the suites for half of what they contained. SI gives us the suites as a full, totally satisfying, organic, rapturous whole in a way I have never heard before. Quite devastating. My heart was rent by profound intelligence and tenderness everwhere exibited in bucket loads. This was the best surprise gift between birthday and Christmas my mother has ever given me. I feel my understanding not just of the suites but the power of music has been infinity expanded. On the 25th listening I am still glowing with the awe and wonder that I have known only three of four times in a lifetime at the most intimate, soul shaking live performances/encounter.
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34 of 55 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic cello playing, but..., 20 Jun 2007
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
Well, actually I've been following Steven Isserlis from his beginnings; I like very much his recordings, beautiful sound, very musically, etc... I was very surprised when I saw the Bach Suites CD and I bought it right away.

Cellist are very respectful about Bach Suites, usually they do not even try to record them if they are not really sure, normally they wait till get a really mature age, and if not so, they try to record them many times to show their developments trough the years.

Bach (as well as many others: Mozart or Beethoven) is a composer with a very strong personality and sometimes is very difficult for performers to put themselves behind his complex - and at the same time: simple - musical language. I think, in the case of Steven Isserlis, it happens something that is very common in strong personality performers; he puts himself ahead Bach personality, trying to show his nice sound and his nice vibrato, and so on, creating in Bach's music improper colors, although is Bach music anyway.

In a few words (for my taste): Too dramatic and sometimes very romantic.

Cello playing is, of course, perfect... as always: Beautiful sound, intonation etc... but musically I would certainly recommend another recordings like: Anner Bylsma or Pieter Wispelwey.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bach: The Cello Suites, 19 July 2007
By 
Mr. W. J. Ross "James" (Yorkshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis (Audio CD)
This recording is worth EVERY PENNY!

Even if you're not into 'classical' music GET THESE CD's and be inspired by music that's lasted over 250 years and is still going strong.

Enjoy!
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Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis
Bach - Cello Suites / Steven Isserlis by Steven Isserlis (Audio CD - 2007)
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