Heinrich Schiff’s 1985 recording of Bach’s Cello Suites stood out to many reviewers for its individuality.
James Leonard’s AllMusic review contrasted Schiff’s version favorably to Yo-Yo Ma’s “fay and fragile” interpretation. “In Schiff’s performance, Bach’s Cello Suites are not the neurasthenic music of a composer supine with dread and despair in the dark midnight of the soul, but the forceful music of a mature composer in full control of himself and his music.”
Gary S. Dalkin, writing for musicweb-international.com, found them perhaps too “brisk,” clocking in at just under 125 minutes for all six pieces compared to the 13o or even 140 minutes that many other cellists required.
Jed Distler gave a reissue of the recording a 10 for both Artistic and Sound Quality in ClassicsToday.com, calling it “arrestingly individual, musically profound, and sonically sumptuous.”
Schiff (November 18, 1951-December 23, 2016) said “Bach saved my life.” After suffering a stroke, the cellist repeated the fingerings of the famous Prelude to Suite No. 1 for 20 hours a day, according to a recollection reported in The Guardian. He believed this saved him from paralysis and from losing his speech.