I am posting today some thoughts regarding my upcoming performance of all the cello suites of Bach, in Barcelona, next October 6th.
A “3 hour conversation with Bach,” by which I mean playing all the 6 Suites in one evening, is a rare privilege, and at the same time, an opportunity to devote months of work gazing, probing, until their is transparency in this greatest of all music given to us by the Kantor of Leipzig.
In this period of reflection, the performer’s goal and intention should be to imbue his own spirit into the depths of the pieces, and become inspired and elevated by this music of such extraordinary dimensions.
After a concert a few years ago, somebody who had never heard my playing said, “I can feel the voices of many persons in your sound!”. I believe he was right, because each of us has a sound that comes not from only our own individual voice, but is also the product of many admired and beloved people in our lives, including those who taught and influenced us.
Performance of this music is the mirror of our life, our experiences, our feelings. For this reason, when I play Bach, which for me is the purest and most direct voice, the music should speak from the deepest place within us.
But how do we make the voice of Bach speak as well– not only our feelings? Maybe that is what makes Bach so difficult and why every version of the Suites so personal. His music, with its almost supernatural balance and a perfection where it is impossible to add or remove a single note, is the ideal medium to give ourselves the chance to speak directly through the musical content and communicate its meaning.
As a result, the more I go into this music, the more freedom I feel.
Music, and particularly Bach, should lead each of us, through our own personal talent, to an understanding of the composer’s deepest meanings, where we become free of our ourselves and don’t need to “demonstrate” anything. As the great pianist György Sebök used to say, ” I forget my ego and I try to be the composer for a while…”
Only once before have I performed all the Bach 6 Suites in one evening: It happened 10 years ago. So I decided that now, on the occasion of my 60th birthday, that it would be a good occasion for a renewed interpretation. In these last 10 years many “new voices” have been added to my sound. And I want to let those voices that I have admired and who have since left us, speak once again. All these inside voices help me to pass on Bach’s message. I do it with a sense of enormous gratitude and I feel priveleged to devote myself to this music that Casals called “A Miracle”…of course he is right… it is the miracle of Bach!!