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February 28, 2008

Pablo Casals - Early Recordings 1925-28

Before audio recording, if people wanted music in their house, they had to make it themselves. Nearly every well-to-do house had a piano, and 90% of americans played an instrument. Sheet music was widespread, popular composers were household names, and performers, even great ones, were relatively unknown. At the dawn of the recording era, a few virtuosos began to shift the attention of music lovers from compositions to performances. Pablo Casals, Fritz Kreisler, Andrés Segovia, and Vladimir Horowitz were the first great classical musicians who could be heard across the continent, and who defined the sound of both their instrument and their repertoire forever.

Pablo Casals was the first great cello player of the recording era, and he remains one of the greatest classical musicians of the 20th century. Of course, that statement can be misleading, because he was really a 19th century musician by birth and mentality. He was never particularly bothered by the concerns of modernism. Like fellow Spaniard Andrés Segovia, his soul was a romantic one, and this romanticism permeated all the music he made. It is as though he lived each piece of music he interpreted, wept with its sorrow, rejoiced with its joy. And he never overdid it. The emotion is never gratuitous; rather, every nuance of his playing only deepens the mood and further suffuses the piece with an indefinable melancholic joi de vivre.

It should go without saying that his tone, technique, and timing are beyond perfect. I say beyond perfect because they are always supporting the music rather than calling attention to themselves. As a young man, he had some of the flashiness of Horowitz and Kreisler, but as he matured he abandoned all superfluity. He was not one to waste his time on gimmicks or games of amusement. The music he played was from the soul and for the soul.

He was also, incidentally, a piano player, violinist, conductor, and human-rights campaigner. He refused to perform in any countries which recognized the totalitarian rule of Generalisimo Franco in Spain. He received the Presidential Medal of Honor from John F. Kennedy. He was an artist of conscience, above all.

Pablo Casals - Early Recordings 1925-1928
Year: 1994 (comp)
Label: BMG

from his soul to yours
mr | mp3 112kpbs mono (equivalent to 224 kbps stereo) | with covers | 60 mb

and get his fantastic Bach Cello Suites at Le Roi s'amuse

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