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Bach - Cello Suites / Rostropovich
Bach - Cello Suites / Rostropovich
Actor: Mstislav Rostropovich
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2004     4hr 0min

This is one of the most important recordings of the 20th century, both for its content (considered by many the greatest cello music of all time) and for the intense devotion, careful preparation, and towering technical s...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Mstislav Rostropovich
Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Indie & Art House, Music Video & Concerts, Classical
Studio: EMI Classics
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 05/04/2004
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1995
Release Year: 2004
Run Time: 4hr 0min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 2
SwapaDVD Credits: 2
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 0
Edition: Classical
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: Russian

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Movie Reviews

Powerful longevity in these essays
scarecrow | Chicago, Illinois United States | 01/04/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)

"The insistent longevity of these Suites is powerful no matter who plays them. I beleive you need to see them being performed in that this induces another dimension of contemplation, for there has been a large range of interpretations from the inital Casals. I prefer Pierre Fournier, he simply has the right tempi, and not so rhapsodic as Casals and Rostropovich who follows him.Although Rostropovich is my second preference,he seems to bring a bit more discipline to these Suites than Casals. And then Janos Starker,but this is in the end useless for we are speaking of different voices rendering a "voice" of Bach.There is also a fascinating dimension on an interpretation that has a more metallic timbre as Moshe Maisky,quite rich in timbre, than the original gut strings of Casals.
But Rostropovich as well soars to new heights especially in the E-Flat Fourth Suite. He adds well- thought through structural analysis and odd bits of historical information on these Suites,works that he regarded as the highest form of musical expression. There is a scheme to the keys of these Suites he says in his introductory remarks. The First Suite in G Major is the most positive "youthful" he calls it then the lamenting power of D-minor has a shadow over the entire history of music. This is resolved again with the Third Suite in the more positive C Major follwoed by another major key of E-Flat in the Fourth Suite, Then the real weight of these Suites resides in the Fifth C Minor,the most memorable moments and the hopeful again Sixth in D Major written for a Five-String Violoncello.The "Preludes" we learn here in each Suite has the weights required the foundations in structure and shape.
You see him then playing these Suites here within a cathedral Basilique Sainte Madeleine,Vezelay Yonne,France with perceptive cutting to and from away side shots,frontal and aerial isolated within a nook with adequete Christian images,solid white statutes of saints.The place was selected for the simple shapes,lines and rhythms of the archetecture the wall graphics in stone, shapes that Rostropovich felt the same strength of dignity as these Suites. I found this cutting away actually distracting,and I tend to think that these works transcend any frame of association with Christian icons and faith,Bach was Protestant. His use of the Sarabande is one glaring example, originally the Sarabande was the tune of the street for those of ill-repute, and one could have been incarcerated for playing a Sarabande in its original form from Spain. Well by the time the form came to Germany it was already purged of its murky past.But hardly the place of saints. These Suites if they have any meaning at all must transcend time and ideology, it is their overwhelming resonances not having specific associations.
Rostropovich you may find his timbre somewhat gruff and hard edged at times especially when the phrase is punctuated, at the end on a lower string, Sometimes it is here rendered as a "noise",and "noises" do have functions within this context, "ugly" timbres are permissibale within these Six essays on humanity, the human condition, the spirit, yet I don't prefer these dead tones Rostropovich renders especially within his playing of the Fifth Suite C Minor where the lower C open and g open is utilized more frequently. There are also many moments where he creates unimaginable tension by not giving in to increasing the volume of the tone. He plays these works on a full-size violoncello.

As I said the E-flat Suite he brings a focused interpretation especially the opening that could get tedious under the wrong hands with its continuous moving eighth notes,quavers,and semi-quavers. He discusses the "time" of these Suites, how they move in a strict motion, a reduction to what the pulse is, quavers or semi-quavers(eigtht notes and sixteenths).How whatever is established comes to be disrupted with cadenza-like gestures, as in the Fourth Suite "prelude" The balance of time is here discussed as well as the motion from strict business,heavier motions as "allemandes"and "preludes",music that needs to establish the frame to flights of indulgent rhythms.lighter means and materials as "bourees",minuets", gavottes""gigues", "courantes" runnings.Although even there Bach shines no light on each moment "pulling back" into minor keys reducing their timbre to whispers as in the First Suite "Menuet"( I, II, I) (G major to G minor) in these Menuets"it was like a turning the voice backwards, a "sotto voce" yet a turning of the planar perspective as well, as space."
A Must have DVD
Samuel B. King | Concord, NH | 04/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I saw Rostropovich perform all six suites in Vienna during the mid-70s at the time he initially moved to the west. It was the first time he performed all six in one sitting. I also met the man after the concert, truly one of the greatest musical evenings I ever experienced. This man, a giant of his craft, makes these suites "sing". The recording was made inside a cathedral and to my eyes and ears, gets the visual and aural tone just right. These pieces are arguable at the apex of western music. The soloist quality of the performance is also an excellent entry point for anyone, particularly those with a jazz background, who want to "get into" classical music. "Slava" is at the top of his game in these recordings. A total must have for any DVD collection. Next stop: check out Rostropovich's CD interpretation of the Britten suites or Jacqueline DuPre's DVD of the Elgar Concerto. Cello heaven!!"
Almost 5 star, falls short on video quality
Hengli Li | Maryland, USA | 01/09/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"If you study cello, or enjoy solo cello, this is great. This is unique, and can't be found elsewhere.
My complaint is the video taping technique and quality. It had dropouts, indicating it was either filmed or analog-taped. Some close-ups are not necessary and not steady, other times the person is too small. Guess the cameraman felt he had to do something. And the result is annoying. My opinion is that it is best not to do anything and just let the camera roll. Shame on the camera crew.
Despite the video drawbacks, the content is highly valuable, especially if you are a cellist."
Bachaholic | Dallas, TX | 01/05/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This is a breathtaking DVD. While the playing is scintillating, I was struck by Slava's remarks about the music. It is so illuminating to hear him speak about the energy in the phrase and demonstrate on the piano. This a disc for all the senses not just the ears and eyes. Not since Casals have we had such wonderful marriage of musicianship and scholarship in one package. Bravo!"