Posted by: Lisa Hill | April 30, 2011

The Cello Suites (2009), by Eric Siblin

The Cello Suites: J. S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque MasterpieceThis is a lovely, lovely book!  I discovered The Cello Suites: J. S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece by Eric Siblin via Kevin from Canada and Trevor at the Mookse and the Gripes and I am reading it while I listen to the music it explores.  Yes, I finally got round to using the iPod for its intended purpose (which is not really listening to audio books to drown out the drone of aeroplanes on long-haul flights).   Thanks to Kevin and Trevor (who are a bad influence on my credit card but I love them for it), I ventured for the first time onto iTunes where I bought the complete Bach Cello Suites played by Pablo Casals –  who made this wondrous, beautiful, exhilarating music his own.   (My favourite is No 2 in D minor, the Gigue, but they are all gorgeous.)

Nothing I could write here could inspire you to  rush out and buy this book as well as Kevin or Trevor’s reviews, so clicks the links above, and read what they have to say.  Then acquire the book and the music, and make sure that anyone noisy who might spoil things has amusements elsewhere for a good long while.  Find a comfy chair (and perhaps a nice glass of wine and some good cheese and biscuits to nibble on so that there is no need to stop reading to assuage any hunger pangs), and (whether you are a classical music fan or not) read one of the best books you’re ever going to come across!

Author: Eric Sibling
Title: The Cello Suites
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (Grove) 2009
ISBN: 9780802119292 (hbk)
Source: Personal library

Fishpond The Cello Suites: J. S. Bach, Pablo Casals, and the Search for a Baroque Masterpiece


  1. What a tantalising post. I am getting onto it straight away…


    • I hope also to be a bad influence on people’s credit cards LOL!


  2. Excellent. I’m always looking for gifts my violin-playing son would appreciate. Thankyou very much.


    • I’m going to send it up to my father in Queensland. He loves classical music and he probably heard Pablo Casals play in his heyday. I think he’ll love this.


  3. Glad to see you are enjoying it, Lisa. I don’t read a lot of non-fiction, but this book has a special place in my memory.


    • I don’t read much NF either – and when I do it’s usually biography or history or travel – so I would never have found out about this book if not for you, Kevin!


  4. I keep reading about this book and planning to read it and have now found that my local library have a copy. I have loved the musis for many years and used to have a boxed set of LPs by Paul Tortellier. I was always told that Pablo Cassals played them best of all, but no doubt people like Yo Yo Ma have also produced excellent versions. YouTube lets me watch them all in small snippets


  5. Oh, this has been on my virtual TBR for a while (having read it through blogs as I recollect) … have considered buying it from Book Depository a few times but keep putting it off until I have time, which somehow never seems to come!

    I buy quite a bit from iTunes, but not so much classical. Mostly folk, jazz, and songs from films that I fall in love with. I haven’t loaded much classical music into my iPod either … except the annual Musica Viva taster CDs which provide lovely excerpts of and intros to the year’s concerts. Somehow though the iPod doesn’t seem the right “appliance” for the classics!


    • Having had one for over 5 years, I am only just starting to use it – and that’s because of digital radio. The Spouse bought me one for the library, but unlike my old ghetto blaster (which took up a lot of room on the shelf) it doesn’t have a slot to put CDs into. (A pity, because I have a nice collection of them). But it does have a thingammy to stick the iPod onto, and so does the one I recently bought for the bedroom. So the CDs are gradually going to school where I play classics to bemused students while they’re working…


  6. I got the iPod for use in the car initially – plug it through the radio – rather than carry lots of CDs. Hubby bought me an Internet radio, and we bought Akitmate speakers (which have an iPod Dock). I love this … Then he bought the Digital Radio, that we use with the Aktimate speakers and iPod dock (though we don’t have Digital ABC here yet so I use it as an Internet Radio!). Technology. Meanwhile, the CDs tend to languish a bit … which is a shame.


    • How come you don’t have digital radio?


      • Because Canberra is classed as Regional! I think it might be scheduled for 2013!


  7. Lisa – thank you for the kind note on my son’s blog. I found your blog earlier this year and find it a wonderful resource for Aussie and Kiwi books. We lived for 8 months in Melbourne, many years ago and I just returned from a trip to New Zealand where my daughter is doing a semester abroad at the Univ. of Auckland – what a beautiful and hospitable country!

    We traveled all around the two islands and our favorite finds were second hand bookshops or second hand stores that had a shelf or two of books. We bought Owls Do Cry by Janet Frame, The Whale Rider by Witi Ihimaera, The Bone People by Keri Hulme and the Penguin History of New Zealand by Michael King. I look forward to reading the books upon her return in July.

    If you have other Kiwi authors that you can recommend, please let me know. You can reach me at


    • Hello, how nice to ‘meet’ you here:) I’ve visited your blog a few times and I find it inspiring.
      I’m trying to increase the number of Kiwi books I read and have been really impressed by the ones I’ve read so far this year – there will be more to come because I’ve got a few recent releases waiting patiently on my TBR, but in the mean time I do recommend that you read some of Katherine Mansfield’s short stories. She wrote them while living in the UK but there is no mistaking her sharp-eyed Kiwi voice, noticing aspects of society that only an ‘outsider’ could.
      Also, you can find the other Kiwi books I’ve reviewed by clicking on the category Kiwi (NZ) Literature from the RHS menu.
      Best wishes, Lisa


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