The six Bach cello suites have been heard just about everywhere — in movies, television shows and commercials. But Zuill Bailey's recording is unique, because he's playing a cello only eight years younger than J.S. Bach himself.
"The suites are probably the greatest things ever written for solo cello to this day," Bailey says. However, they were largely unknown until the 20th century, when Pablo Casals recorded them. Since no original manuscript of the cello suites exists, it's up to the performer to decide how to play them. Bailey says that gives the musician a certain responsibility and freedom.
One of Bailey's favorites is Suite No. 3 in C major.
"It's the most popular for cellists to perform," he says, "not just for the excitement factor, but because it lays so beautifully on the basic strengths of the cello."
Bach spent most of his time at the organ, and Bailey says it shows in this suite.