Archive for February, 2011


The famous quote ‘writing about music is like dancing about architecture’ demonstrates that this is a highly ambitious book. It seems unlikely that an author could hold a readers attention by writing a whole book about one piece of music and one performer, especially when the music and the performer are not well known outside classical music circles. Did he succeed?

Bach Cello Suites: JS Bach, Pablo Casals and the search for a Baroque Masterpiece is by former rock journalist Eric Siblin and it tells three stories. The story of Bach, the 18th century german composer, the story of Pablo Casals, the 20th century basque cellist, discoverer of the music and most famous performer of it – see this video of Pablo Casals plays BACH – Suite no 1 for Cello – part 1 and the story of the canadian author’s attempt to research the piece in excruciating detail.

Overall the guy succeeded far better than could be expected. most bookgroupers, though not all, found something in the book that was of enough interest keep reading. mostly it was the details provided about bach and his family life, and the history of germany in that period, a time when the was no germany just a series kingdoms and dukedoms. also the history of 20th century spain, with the civil war, franco, the 2nd world war, and basque independence was provided from a basque perspective, which i found interesting.

i must admit though, whenever the author wrote about the music itself i really did get bored and the dancing about architecture quote always came to me after a sentence or two. luckily for me he didnt spend much time trying to describe the sound of the suites. he did spend a fair bit of time describing his own experiences with the suites, which bookgroupers also found a bit tedious, but again he tended to move on quickly so if you were getting bored you didnt have to wait long for something a bit more interesting to pop up.


February 19, 2011 at 4:10 am Leave a comment


February 2011
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