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4.6 out of 5 stars19
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 29 April 2011
Janos Starker was born in 1924 in Budapest, Hungary. Two of his older brothers perished in the Nazi holocaust, and he himself was interned. A child prodigy, he made his debut aged 11, and caused a sensation when he played the Dvorak concerto aged 14, standing in at short notice for an indisposed soloist. After the War, he went to America at the invitation of Antal Dorati, and was first cello in several prominent orchestras there before branching out as a chamber player in 1951 [most memorably in the 1960s, with Joseph Suk and Julius Katchen], and as a soloist and teacher. He became an American citizen, and was widely recognised as one of the greatest cellists of his generation. He recorded virtually all the great works of the cello repertoire, many of them several times. He has always been closely associated with the Kodaly sonata for solo cello, and has made five sets of recordings of the Bach suites, the pinnacle of the cello repertoire, though only three have been widely available. These are the early 1950s set for Period [just suites 1,3,4 & 6], issued on LP in the UK by Nixa and re-issued by Saga; the mid-60s set for Mercury; and this version for RCA. [In addition, there was a late 1950s EMI set [1, 2, 3 & 5 in mono: 4 & 6 in stereo], and a 1984 digital set for Sefal.]

This set, his last, was apparently recorded in 1992, but not released until 1997, originally by RCA. In its present incarnation, it represents astonishing value for money, despite the lack of any notes about the artist or the music. His playing has gained an added nobility and patrician grandeur with the passage of time; and though his earlier recordings - especially the 1963-5 Mercury cycle - may display more fleet-footed energy and excitement, none of them seems to be currently available. In some ways the Mercury cycle may have the edge for its combination of technical brilliance and sheer musicality. Sadly, in its 1992 CD remastering, it was pitched almost a semitone sharp; and though this was corrected for the 2004 Hybrid CD/SACD re-issue, that set is currently unavailable.

No-one who loves Starker's playing of these incredible works should hesitate for a moment to acquire this very special, technically excellent recording, particularly at this bargain price. If and when the Mercury set, properly pitched, becomes available again, that too should be acquired. In the meantime, no-one should feel short-changed by these well-recorded, golden and glorious performances. They represent the crowning achievement of his life and work.
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on 20 February 2014
If I had to choose fewer than ten recordings to listen to the rest of my life Bach's Suites for Solo Cello would be one of them. I first encountered Janos Starker's rendition in the early 1970's and it competed well with the Grateful Dead and James Taylor for listening time. This later recording is even better. Serious audiophiles or academic musicologists could argue there are better and I won't debate that point. But if you want a very technically and emotionally played version of tear your heart out music, you won't be disappointed with this album.
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on 14 March 2012
as mstislav rostropovic said there is no life (for a cellist) without bach - and this recording by janos starker makes one hear and feel why that is true. it is a little known recording starker made late in life, and it is full of a musician's life experience. starkers impeccable technique gives his playing lightness but most importantly enables him to convey both emotions and pure music. in my personal estimation this recording ist even better than maisky's both recordings and well above yo yo ma - and great value for so little money.
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on 23 November 2012
I tend to now and again look at the bargain CD's And some times come out with a true Gem. this falls in that catergory over 2hrs off sublime music that can take you to another place. Starker is masterful and it has lead me to try and discover more performances by him.
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on 16 September 2013
This is a superbly mastered recording of J.S. Bach's 6 cello suites. It was recorded with 24 bit resolution at 88.2 KHz sampling frequency. The virtue of which is simple, exact integer down-sampling to the 16 bit, 44.1 KHz standard used for CD. This produces a highly detailed, transparent, and thoroughly engaging sound: provided the playback equipment is capable of such.
I am not a musician, and far less a cellist, but in my opinion Janos Starker beautifully captures both the energy and delicacy of these suites.
Add to this the fact that you can purchase this double CD set for a very reasonable price (under 3 pounds/disc), and you will see why I have awarded an unreserved 5 stars.
If you are a cellist, or simply enjoy the sound of this instrument, then this recording is highly recommended.
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on 5 June 2013
I have the original version Janos Starker recorded in the 60s, which is amazing, and wondered how this might differ, having been recorded later in his life. This is a different but no less wonderful recording of possibly my favourite classical piece, and to be recommended
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on 27 November 2012
I had download the Tortelier version but I now prefer this (Janos Starker) recording, as the sound he makes is to me smoother, deeper. Both technically perfect of course, and part of the difference could be in the way they were recorded. Connoisseurs (not like me) should probably have both.
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on 6 May 2014
More years ago that I care to remember, I had an LP of these suites by Starker. Since changing to CD's I've not found an interpretation I liked as much, this is simply stunning and the sound quality is fine.
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on 27 July 2012
I wanted a recording of the cello suites after hearing an extract on "Pray as you Go". After a lot of research I chose a very reasonably priced recording by the Hungarian soloist Janos Starker. Only downside: no notes. But a bit of internet research will find Janos Starker's notes as well as notes by other soloists. The cello sings like the human voice .
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on 27 July 2012
JS Bach at his best, really good recording and excellent value for money, a good buy and great for those who love Bach!!
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