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Why it's worth revisiting Bach's musical legacy / GQ India

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Peter Gregson is a brave man. The 32-year-old Englishman is a renowned cellist and composer, but I mention bravery first because of an album he put out in October 2018. It was titled Recomposed: Bach – The Cello Suites, and was the aural equivalent of an architect trying to recreate the Taj Mahal using brick and mortar. What Gregson did was reinterpret one of the most loved pieces of music in Western classical music and make it sound brand new, three centuries after it was created.

The Taj Mahal analogy is apt because the six Cello Suites are as well-known. No one expects a musician to play them differently, let alone change the way they were composed. They are massive, supremely moving works that cellists spend lifetimes trying to play, recording and re-recording them at various stages as their relationships with them evolve. Yo-Yo Ma, arguably the most famous classical musician alive, has played them since age 4, and released his final recording of them – his third – in August, 2018. He chose to celebrate the milestone by embarking upon a two-year journey across six continents, playing all six suites in single sittings.