Customer Review

44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Poetic and inspirational, 18 Nov. 2005
This review is from: Bach: Cello Suites (Audio CD)
Torterlier was a friend of Pablo Casals, and was invited to be principal cellist at the first Prades Festival, which commemorated the 200th anniversary of Bach's death. He admired Casals very much and imitated some of his technique. He said of Casals, "...he was probably the first cellist to use his left hand in the manner of a pianist--that is, by normally placing only one finger on the string at a time, rather than keeping all the fingers clamped down. This allowed the fingers to vibrate freely." (From The Strad, April '84) Ginsberg wrote, "Creative fantasy and a youthful abandon are inherent in his performing style."
Tortelier was so moved by the Israeli effort to establish a homeland that he moved to Israel to assist in the effort. He was forty years old then, at the height of his cellist powers. He and his wive and their two children lived in Mabaroth, a Kibbutz, just a few hundred yards from the enemy border.
From 1956 to 1969 he was a professor at the Paris Conservatoire, and at the Folkwang Hochschule in Essen, from 1969 to 1975. Shortly thereafter he became the first Westerner to be an honorary Professor of Music at the Central Conservatoire in Beijing, China. He was a Frenchman, but advised his students to avoid French music. Not that he disliked it, but he realized that the public wanted to hear Beethoven and Mozart. He taught his students to be international in their musical tastes and performances. As is the case with Rostropovich, Tortelier gradually began to do more conducting as he grew older.

He had an outgoing, lively personality, and taught master classes on British television. The classes were quite popular, even with people who knew little about the cello or classical music. Tortelier has a reputation for being a great story-teller, and a wide knowledge of art and literature, as well as music. He not only is an excellent performer, but also a composer of many cello works. His Sonata Breve (Bucephale), and Alla Maud are particularly well-known, as are his two cello concertos.
His edition of the Bach Suites came out in 1966. He said, with regard to the Suites, "To breathe life into music is more important than to prove respect for it." In 1971 he published his cello method, How I Play, How I Teach, which is particularly useful in training pupils to play modern music. He was founder and president of the "Mouvement Beethoven Association," begun on the 200th anniversary of Beethoven's birth, and designed to support progressively-minded composers.
I yearn to deeply comprehend the Bach Cello Suites. Whether Pablo Casals, Paul Tortelier, Rostropovich, or whoever your favorite cellist may be, they all rightfully speak of the Suites with an effusive reverence. They all refer to the "infinity" of Bach, the "oceanic depths" of Bach, or the "cathedral" of Bach.
Though inspiring and poetic words, as a student of the Suites, I want to know more. But on listening over and over to Tortelier, I fancy that I begin to comprehend.
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