The phrase "Casals playing Bach" is not just a shorthand phrase for transcendent music making; it's also a metaphor for profound artistic integrity. When the young Spanish cellist Pau (Pablo) Casals discovered the Bach suites for solo cello at the turn of the 20th century, they were virtually unknown; his recitals and recordings made them a cornerstone of the repertoire — especially his 1930's HMV reading of the suites, made in London while the Spanish Civil War raged. There is a lot of history in the intersecting worlds of Bach and Casals, and guitarist Steven Hancoff unpacks it in "From Tragedy to Transcendence," his one-man show this weekend at Downstairs Cabaret's Henrietta venue. Hancoff also provides plenty of music, with a twist: as a jazz guitarist, his versions of Bach's music, which was based on popular dance forms, have a relaxed, fluid touch.
Steven Hancoff will perform "From Tragedy to Transcendence: Bach, Casals, and the Six Suites for Cello Solo" on Saturday, October 22, 8 p.m., and Sunday, October 23, 2 p.m., at Downstairs Cabaret, 3450 Winton Place. $25 (various discounts available). 325-4370; downstairscabaret.com