Casals and the Art of Interpretation
by David Blum
"'Imagine!' Pablo Casals once said. 'They call me a great cellist. I am not a cellist; I am a musician. That is much more important." (from the Preface)
Pau Casals i Defilló was born this day in 1876 and died on October 22, 1973. He was known during his professional career as Pablo Casals and was a Spanish Catalan cellist and conductor. He made many recordings throughout his career, of solo, chamber, and orchestral music, also as conductor, but Casals is perhaps best remembered for the recording of the Bach Cello Suites he made from 1936 to 1939. Casals and the Art of Interpretation is perhaps the best book about his art and music. In this engaging book Blum analyzes and explicates the principles of music interpretation as demonstrated by Casals in his playing, conducting and living. Whether it is the need to produce a singing tone in a classic composition by Richard Wagner or the importance of design in shaping the themes of a composition - every aspect of the music he was playing or conducting was of importance to him. Blum uses precise musical terminology combined with detailed musical examples in his lucid and revealing interpretation of Casals' art. The result is a text that I found readable and easily grasped and, while I admittedly have more than average training in music, the book should be understandable for most general readers. The highlight of the book for me was both the chapter on "Casals and Bach" and the final discussion of a rehearsal of Beethoven's "Pastoral Symphony". It is here that the heart of Pablo Casals is on display and the result is that I will never listen to these works the same way again.
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