Episode 6: Pierre Fournier Plays Bach's Cello Suite No. 1

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Each weekday during November, WQXR offers a free, daily download of a noteworthy Bach recording. Today: The "Aristocrat of the cello."

Album Details:
Prelude to Bach's Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major

Pierre Fournier, cello
Available at Arkivmusic.com

Bach, so far as we know, wrote his six unaccompanied cello suites as private exercises for budding performers. But they gained worldwide exposure during the 20th century, thanks to Pablo Casals and later, to Paul Tortelier, Mstislav Rostropovich and the artist we’re featuring today: Frenchman Pierre Fournier (1906-1986). Fournier had a lengthy and distinguished career and spent much of it playing the Bach suites. This recording, released in 1961, was a classic when it came out, and remains so to this day. The Archiv reissue captures the remarkable poise, control and tonal beauty of his playing. Listen above to the prelude to the Suite No. 1 to get a sense of what we mean.

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Comments [3]

Gilles Montezin from New York

Mr. Fournier certainly had great understanding of the piece he was playing. It is a little too "serious" for my personal taste- I prefer Paul Tortelier's version, who ads a touch of passion that goes well with the drama of the piece.

That said, I just don't understand why people say some pieces by Bach would have been written for exercises for students or to practice, just because they are simple or repetitive? It doesn't mean they were meant for students.
Who started that idea? Is it documented ?
Yes, he was a teacher, but was before all ...A composer! The teacher part of him was ....A job! To help pay the rent and because it was in his contract.Yes, he thought his kids too, but can one make a difference between a composition and exercises and not believe that randomly every single pieces could have been composed for teaching?
I've heard and read that for a good portion of his work, by now:
Magdalena's notebook, well tempered clavier, art of fugue, cello suites..What else?.... Really???

Nov. 13 2014 06:22 PM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from Richard Wagner Music Drama Institute, Boonton, NJ

Like Shakespeare, JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH, had such comprehensive vision of the world he knew and such an imagination and compositional virtuosity to reach deep into many formats and get his message across. MOZART, BEETHOVEN and WAGNER IMHO are the only other musical geniuses that may still be as BACH widely played and appreciated one hundred years from now. Great as BACH was/is each composer has his/her own style and format and content so it is not appropriate to claim the top of the totem pole to any one great composer, no matter how great. I am partial to RICHARD WAGNER because his music most touchest both my personal and professional life. But Mozart, Beethoven, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Berlioz, Saint-Saens, Gounod, Massenet, Debussy, Giordano, Schubert, Arnold Schonberg, Brahms, Richard and Johann Strauss, Moussorsky, Borodin, Leoncavallo, Mascagni, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Bizet, Meyerbeer and Hugo Wolf all have legitimate claims on my leisure as well as professional life. Ask a mother or father who their favorite child is if they have more than one and one will see it is not that easy to marginalize one's preferences. ALL deserve our attention and respect. There will always be time and devotion cheerfully dedicated to the presentation of this great master's ouevre. The test of time is virtually always the most respected judgment on the preciousness of anything. BACH's music has met that test. JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH is one of the great titanic geniuses of music and his music and its influence will be forever with us no matter what the current fads that will turn up as certainly as day follows night. SIngers and instrumentalists and music lovers all clamor for more BACH. I am a Wagnerian heldentenor, an opera composer ["Shakespeare" and "The Political Shakespeare"], teacher of voice production and I train and coach big-voiced singers in the Wagner rep and actors in the Shakespeare oeuvre. www.WagnerOpera.com

Nov. 13 2014 12:44 AM
Aurora from Bedford, NY

Thank you so much for this special gift of magnificent music.

Nov. 10 2014 08:00 PM

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