Jeffrey Zeigler Presents: Mike Block Solo Show

His name is Mike Block and he plays the cello that hangs from his neck while he is standing up. He plays with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silkroad Ensemble and he plays by himself in concert.

In his CD MIKE BLOCK ECHOES OF BACH recently issued by Bright Shiny Things Block establishes from the get go that he is a musician to the core, playing the G Major Prelude from the Cello Suite No. 1 of J.S. Bach with assurance and sober emotion.

Over the next eleven tracks Block travels back and forth between Gabrielli’s 17th century and Bach’s 18th century and on to the current one, felicitously juxtaposing with their Baroque predecessors pieces by the late Austrian composer György Ligeti, the 20th century Turkish composer Ahmet Adnan Saygun, and the contemporary Italian Giovanni Sollima.

Seven of the tracks feature Preludes, Allemandes, Courantes, Sarabandes, Gigues and Bourrées that can test the mettle and technique of lesser players, but here allow Block to establish himself as a flawless technician.

But Bach to show off dexterity is soulless Bach, and Block injects into his playing of these test pieces the same intensity of feeling and unceasing energy that he brings to his reading of the fourth movement of Saygun’s Eastern-inflected Partita for solo Cello and to Giovanni Solima’s percussively dance-like Citarruni, from The Taranta Project.

Engineered by Dan Cardinal, this outside-of-the standard-repertory box CD is a delight. Would Bright Shiny Things please consider more Block?

Rafael de Acha