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A Bailey double

In today's Washington Post: Zuill Bailey's performance at the Kennedy Center, by Charles T. Downey.

Web-only review:

Zuill Bailey tackles Bach's solo cello suites on CD
by Mark J. Estren

Bailey's CD is available from

Warmth, thoughtfulness and intimacy pervade Zuill Bailey’s remarkable new version of Bach’s Cello Suites (recently released on Telarc, 2 CDs). Bailey’s 1693 Matteo Gofriller cello predates the suites by some 30 years; yet his breathing and the cello’s occasional creaks as its wood flexes give these readings a sense that the music and both performers – man and instrument – are very much alive and in tune with each other.

Although this is a studio recording (made in December 2008), the music’s flow and Bailey’s near-constant, very slight rubato make it sound like an exceptionally lush live performance.
(read more after the jump)

Bailey’s highly personal style brings considerable unity to these sets of disconnected movements, notably in the exuberance of Suite No. 1 and the panache of No. 4. And the details within the suites are as impressive as the works’ totality. Each listener will find different ones to treasure. Among them are the very fast Courante of No. 2, which makes the following Sarabande seem even slower than it is; the astonishing quadruple stopping at the climax of the Prélude in No. 3, and the subtle crescendos and decrescendos in that suite’s Gigue; the delicacy of the Prélude in No. 4; the very broad and resonant Prélude in No. 5; and, in No. 6, the way Bailey ties the ethereal ending of the Prélude to the very start of the following Allemande.

Bailey’s deep affinity for the Préludes and Sarabandes in no way conflicts with his handling of the lighter dance movements – in fact, he throws himself so enthusiastically into the Menuets, Bourrées and Gavottes that he demolishes the old idea that the Bach Cello Suites have something fusty and academic about them. Not so: In Bailey’s hands, this is music of both profundity and joy.

--Mark J. Estren

By Anne Midgette  |  May 6, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  CD reviews , Washington , local reviews  
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