Acquired CD set By: I was selected to be a part of the blog tour for “Bach, Casals & The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo: Volumes 1-4” hosted by iRead Book Tours. I received a complimentary copy of the CD set Volume 4: From Tragedy to Transcendence direct from the author Steven Hancoff without obligation to post a review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why my interest was piqued with this collection:
I have a secret in my closet. A secret instrument to be exact! When I was six and twenty I made the bold choice to purchase a wicked stellar electric guitar – it’s in a lovely deep crimson red colour and has a lovely strap that is super comfy against my shoulder. I have an equally delightful amp that has yet to emerge out of it’s box! What pray tell would prevent me from picking up said guitar and amp whilst curating my own musical styling? Apparently the absence of an open-minded community for left-handed guitar players! No. Seriously. I couldn’t find one instructor who would teach me to play whilst accepting the fact I play left-handedly despite the fact I’m predominately right-handed. Clearly my community is overlooking the obvious: left-handers rock the music world! (i.e. I loved watching Josey Scott playing alongside Chad Kroeger for “Hero”; wave your hands fellow Spider-Man fans of the films with Tobey Maguire!) This guide to left-handed musicians should be passed out in pamphlets round here!
This curious fact stems out of my dyslexic past and a sombering story of pre-school choices – none of which is relevant except to say I also play baseball left-handed! Yes, you read that right *baseball!* not softball! I digress. I’ve been an appreciator of classical music and classical compositions since I was quite young as I cut my teeth on Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Tchaikovsky (clearly my passion for the 1812 Overture was a precursor to a life-long passion for devouring war dramas?) – whilst appreciating contemporary symphonies and orchestras. I loved attending musical concerts and developed a passion for soundcapes lateron as I developed my writing style, as I found the evocations of ambient and trance electronica created this ethereal creative well of inspiration. One of my favourite outlets for these soundscapes is Hearts Of Space, whose programmes are a feast of a writerly soul! Originally I listened to them on the radio until their station dissolved and I re-found them online in 2014! If you can find music that allows your mind the ability to relax into your creative synergy, it’s something to hold onto as creativity is quite obtuse at the best of times!
Although being an electric guitar owner goes a bit against the principles of acoustic guitar sessions (as the whole point is to be ‘unplugged’ rather than ‘plugged’ in) — I must admit, I like finding ways to bridge gaps and musical styles; including finding a balance of pause between electric and acoustic techniques. Rebel musicians like David Garrett (info on the album I own of his via Wikipedia) truly inspire me, as who knew you could emote such a wicked sweet sound out of a violin, such as he? I’d love to learn classical guitar techniques prior to cutting into a vein of style that befits my eclectic personality as I am duly passionate about classical opera as much as the rock operas of Broadway musicals! I am happily eclectic by musicality too, as my heart thunders into a rhythm of joy whilst I listen to Indie artists (especially the kind found on CDbaby!) whose vibes are their own niche of musical revolution. I can take-on quite a heap of music and find the beauty of all of it – combined or singularly separate. Even the decades of the past are a vortex of inspiration as I can hunker down inside the early 20th Century alongside Cole Porter, Bing Crosby, Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and the legends of Jazz.
Swinging back into the classics for a moment, there is something quite tangible about the music of Bach’s generation – it’s not only dimensional, it’s thought-provoking. It’s invigorating but it’s emotionally connecting to you on a level only music can penetrate. Rather than focus solely on the musical notes and experiences of listening to this collection on CD – I wanted to step inside the booklet itself, and relate to you what I found about about Bach directly!
A notation on the Cover Art: Being a visual artist who wants to take up sketching and illustration in the future, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful etchings of the drawings being featured as the cover art design. It’s such a creative way to tell a short story about how man and music can blend together to create a harmony of a new class of dimension that it’s hard to see where man begins and music ends or rather, how the circle is so finite and conjoined the two become entwined. The sketching also focuses on the ‘fundamentals’ of the human form, and thus, seemed to tip the nod to working on the fundamentals of the crafting of musicality. To encourage practice out of the pleasure of developing the ear for what music can give you as much as what you can give back to the process.
The Six Suites for ‘Cello Solo Series:
FROM TRAGEDY TO TRANSCENDENCE
ENTER THE CREATIVE WORLD OF J.S. BACH IN INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED GUITARIST STEVEN HANCOFF’S GROUNDBREAKING FOUR-VOLUME E-BOOK: BACH, CASALS AND THE SIX SUITES FOR ’CELLO SOLO
A Totally Immersive Multimedia Experience. Richly Detailed Text Embedded with More Than 1,000 Illustrations Illuminating Bach’s Masterpiece, from Its Creation to Its Legacy. Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo and 3-CD set Audio Recording of ’Cello Suites to be Released June 23rd
Exclusively on iTunes and CD Baby
Includes Hancoff’s Complete Recording Of His Acoustic Guitar Transcription of Bach’s ’Cello Suites
From tragedy to transcendence is the theme that embodies the essence of the life and work of Johann Sebastian Bach. “This man, ‘the miracle of Bach,’ as Pablo Casals once put it, led a life of unfathomable creativity and giftedness on the one hand and neglect and immense tragedy on the other,” says Hancoff.
Bach’s life was rife with hardship and tragedy from the start. By the time he was nine years old, he had witnessed the deaths of three siblings and then, within a year, his father and mother also passed away.
For all his education and talent, however, his first job was serving as a lackey for a drunkard duke. Subsequently, he spent the next fifteen years in the employ of Weimar’s harshly ascetic Duke Wilhelm Ernst, who cared little for music. When he was twenty-two, he married the love of his live, his distant cousin, Maria Barbara Bach. During the thirteen years they were married, she bore him seven children, three of whom died at birth.
In 1717, Prince Leopold of Cöthen offered Bach a position as the musical director for Cöthen. Bach jumped at the chance. The officials of Weimar, however, threw him in jail for “the crime” of daring to resign his present position. Still, Bach was on the verge of a career breakthrough.
Three years into his happy and contented tenure in Cothen, Prince Leopold and Bach visited the spa town of Carlsbad for a month of vacationing and music-making. Unfortunately, upon his return Bach learned of the death of his wife and then only when he entered into his home. Imagine the shock, the impact. He never even discovered the cause of death.
Yet this tragic setback in Bach’s life was a major turning point because he came to grips with his personal tragedy by unleashing a flood of masterpieces for which he is and will be forever revered. First came the Six Violin Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo and then the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo.
In the ’Cello Suites we hear Bach expressing his own seeking, yearning, love, loss, sorrow, grief and determination and their overtones of surrender, resolution affirmation and transcendence. He aspired to articulate an ultimate personal confession, a revelation, entirely unique, entirely sublime, as an ultimate act of artistic and creative testimony, a heavenly statement about his own life and even of life itself—as a final gift and an enduring, heavenly send-off for his beloved wife.
Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo invites readers and music lovers into a unique experience, contained in an immersive four-volume e-book from Steven Hancoff – a virtuoso musician’s restless, passionate, multimedia exploration of a musical masterpiece that only grows in stature almost three centuries after it was written.
The many fascinating and inspiring aspects of the book include:
• How Bach struggled and overcame adversity and the lessons his example offer us today.
• The ultimate meaning of the Six Suites for ’Cello.
• How almost all of Bach’s works would have nearly sunk into oblivion were it not for the extraordinary efforts of Sara Levy, the great aunt of Felix Mendelssohn, to rescue them.
• How Felix Mendelssohn singlehandedly created with the performance of the St. Matthew Passion a Bach renaissance and a legacy that continues to be enjoyed to the present day.
• The miraculous discovery of the six ’Cello Suites by Pablo Casals in a Barcelona thrift shop and why he studied them for twelve years before performing them in public.
• What Pablo Casals meant when he spoke of “the miracle of Bach.” Bach, Casals and the Six Suites for ’Cello Solo promises to be an adventure for anyone fascinated by the enduring power of music, art and why they matter.
Places to find the book:
on June 2015
Converse via: #JohannSebastianBach + #cello + #classicalmusic