Friday, November 14, 2008

So I was driving my daughter to the supermarket yesterday, and I ask her, already knowing the answer, if she wants to listen to Mr. Ray or Yo Yo Ma. Listening to Mr. Ray (a children's singer, I'm not sure how well-known he is or isn't outside of central Jersey) we drive and talk, mostly about what I don't really remember. I'm driving to a farther-away supermarket because really I want her to fall asleep, but she isn't, we're almost there and she says "I hate Yo Yo Ma!" She's three, and she hates/loves a lot of things very passionately and very quickly. I laugh and say, "Is he boring? Aren't you glad we're listening to Mr. Ray?" and she says "I love Casals!"

I like to listen to different cellists play Bach's Cello Suites. We recently got the Ma version; I don't like it as much as the Casals, while Dara likes it more. Jonah had asked my why I like one and Dara likes the other, I thought about it and explained that in one sense there's two approaches to art on display here. Casals is playing what he knows by heart, but he sounds like he's surprising himself as he moves through the music, and reacting to that surprise by moving into it--it sounds rough because he really doesn't know exactly how it is going to go, or at least makes it sound that way; it is very passionate and romantic. Yo Yo Ma, on the other hand, has studied the music intently and practiced it to perfection, and you can hear his mastery in that sense in every measured note. Which isn't to say, I explain, that I always like the first kind of art, but that that is the quality of the Casals I find so attractive. The first thing is to like what your ear likes, and then you can figure out why, following that. All this on the way to Best Buy, a few days before.

I had no idea Halcyon was listening to that conversation, but I guess she was. It was just really really funny to hear my 3-year-old daughter say "I love Casals!" Anyway, then she fell asleep, so I got to turn around and go home and take a nap too.


You are back blogging!

I would say that it depends on the recording. Yo Yo Ma did one of the most beautiful recordings of Dvorak's Cello Concerto. I also like his New York cd. However, I tend to favor Casals or Rostropovich for Bach, and think Casals is superb for Beethoven. Sadly, du Pre is somehow tedious playing Beethoven even though her phrasing on Elgar in Superb.

Soo Jin
Soo Jin, it is so fantastically wonderful to hear from you! How is everything--actually, I'll email you, and ask you there.

It sounds like you are very knowledgeable on the subject--I'll listen to those recordings you mention I'm not familiar with (Ma's Dvorkak I mean). I should say I'm going off only the recordings of the Cello Suites I've mentioned, and for all I know they are largely uncharacteristic of these men as artists. I do agree with you about du Pre.
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