Rostropovich playing the Prelude of Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1

Mstislav Rostropovich is one of the great cello players of all times. His interpretations are well received among the classical music lovers, even though some of the people who like to listen to classical compositions like the Cello Suites composed by Johan Sebastian Bach prefer other performers, e.g., Yo Yo Ma or Pablo Cazals. We think that it is a matter of taste.
Watch this video with Mstislav Rostropovich performing the Prelude of the Cello Suite No. 1 and compare it to Yo Yo Ma’s performance. While Rostropovich plays the prelude in about 2 minutes while Yo Yo Ma slows it down about 25% resulting in a 2 minutes and a half performance. Personally, I prefer the faster version of the prelude.
Play this video clip and listen to the Cello Suite No. 1 in G major, which is included in the catalogue of Johan Sebastian Bach’s compositions under the number BWV 1007. The present footage was filmed at the Basilique Sainte Madeleine, Vézelay, Yvonne, France in 1991.
Since Johan Sebastian Bach did not include any indications about the performing details, it is supposed that this prelude should not be played with a slowing down effect on certain parts, which is one of the stylistic elements Yo Yo Ma uses almost anywhere. Since Bach didn’t annotate anything like this in his composition sheets, it should be played straight forward as Mstislav Rostropovich is doing it. He catches and expresses more of the original spirit of this composition.


1 Comment

  1. Is sticking to the original always the best thing to do?
    Is Ray Charles’ deathly slow version of America the Beautiful less magnificent than the original? Perhaps you are biased because of Rostropovich’s death and want to say something good about him. However, if there were only one interpretation of music, we wouldn’t need to listen to Rostropovich’s cello suites either. We’d just listen to Pablo Casals and end the discussion.

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