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GG: Bach You Can't Live Without / & Stern & Casals

At 07:04 AM 7/21/2000 -0700, Brian D. Johnson wrote:
 If you were
stranded on a desert island and could have just one Bach recording, which
would it be? Here is how they answered."

...And Mr. Gould captures more votes than any other artist.

A nice and well-deserved Gould showing there, yes.

?? But I see there in that article three votes for Gould, four for Casals
(if Isaac Stern gets to vote for two different Casals sets)....

I thought it intriguing that 9 of the 14 people interviewed cited
recordings that were made before 1956, i.e. in relatively dim mono sound,
and in styles of playing Bach that aren't done much anymore.  Agreed, some
of those records they mentioned are wonderful performances.  (And that
Scherchen St Matthew Passion does have some terrific details.)

And it's worth noting that of the 14 people they chose to interview for
this article, only one is at all directly involved with period-instrument
performance.  Talk about a biased sample!  Of the 16 recordings listed in
the sidebar, 3 are on period instruments.  (Or 3.5 if we give Landowska's
harpsichord half a point.)  Not a bad showing, considering the [un]balance
of the sampled population.

Incidentally, speaking of Casals and GG and Stern together, do any of you
know the *other* recorded portrait of Casals (not GG's)?  Columbia Records
produced it c1966 to celebrate Casals' 90th birthday, and released it as a
bonus (packaged with some of Casals' Marlboro LP's of Bach, Mendelssohn,
etc.).  It's a full LP, about 50 minutes.  Isaac Stern is the narrator,
interspersed with many Casals speeches, rehearsal excerpts, and
performances.  The portrait covers many topics, from his career to Bach to
interpretation to composition to pacifism.  And they use a bit of GG's WTC1
(the E-flat minor) for part of the background music!  Nicely done.

It's not surprising that Stern would pick Casals' Bach - they worked
closely together in the early 1950's at Prades, and subsequently.  From the
booklet of a reissue of some of the Stern/Casals 1950 performances (which
are extraordinary):
"These contacts with Casals were highly important to Isaac Stern: he found
that Casals opened the gates to an extraordinary garden surrounded by high
walls, in which one discovered trees, plants, and the most wonderful
flowers, 'but you had to *want* to pick them.'  Stern took away a great
many, including his mastery of vibrato, the intuition of what is hiding
behind the printed score, and the impression that from the very first note
you know where you are going.  He also kept from these contacts an
unfailing love for every kind of chamber music.  And, above all, he remains
grateful to Casals for making him conscious to the highest degree of 'the
chance and happiness of being a musician.'"

If the question was "which 8 minutes of Bach must go to the desert
island?", I think a candidate would have to be the slow movement of the
violin/oboe concerto, with Stern and Marcel Tabuteau conducted by Casals, 1950.

Bradley Lehman
Dayton VA