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Mixed Company is written by Saint Paul Sunday staff, giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the show and the classical music they love. We welcome your online comments.

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October 12, 2005

A rose is a rose, but a cello is not a cello

A flute is a flute. A piano is a piano, right? But this cello is not just any cello. I've never heard a cello like this.

I know that I am greatly simplifying the differences between makers of other instruments, but when Zuill Bailey played his cello, it sounded to me like a different instrument, especially during the Brahms sonata. The instrument has such a dark, full-bodied sound that it seemed to fill up the entire studio. This particular 1693 Goffriller cello has an interesting history behind it, but rest assured the gorgeous sound comes from a lot of hard work by a masterful musician. Working equally hard, and elegantly, Awadagin Pratt is an assertive and nimble pianist. It helps that Zuill and Awadagin are best friends and intuitively aware of each other's every gesture. Does this cello sound different than others to you? How would you describe its tone? Do you hear a difference in Awadagin's musical tone compared to another pianist?

One side note that I can't help but mention: I was walking to the studio with Zuill when we passed another producer in the hallway. The producer literally did a double-take and later told me, "I thought that was Johnny Depp."

Posted by Suzanne Schaffer at October 12, 2005 4:17 PM



Zuill rocks! He is an awesome cellist and nice too. I would love it if you had Awadagin on by himself someday. Also please have Trio Mediavel back.

By megan sullivan at October 15, 2005 8:29 AM


This program nicely illustrates why the cello and piano are so well suited for each other, and why the music they create settles so easily in the mind: their individual tonal qualities are so similar, though the actual expression is quite different, that the harmonic convergence created is more than complimentary--it's the mating of equals.

You could almost substitute the human voice for either part, and have an equally well balanced result. (Though why is there so little music written for cello and voice?)

I was as impressed by Awadagin's playing as Zuil's. Nice, deft technique he has. And the two movements from Beethoven's Op. 67 reminded me why it's one of the most beautiful pieces ever written--of any kind.

John Niesyn

By John Niesyn at October 16, 2005 10:21 PM


I have bought a CD or two from you in th epast I a would like a copy of this cello if that can be arranged this next month so line things up for me and we are both going to be happy.
Thank you,

By David Allee at October 17, 2005 10:48 AM


Megan, John, David: Thanks for writing!

Megan: We confirm -- Zuill's not just an amazing artist but a great guy too, as is Awadagin! It's time to have AP back. We'll rebroadcast the Trio Mediæval at least 1x more and welcome them back, too, at some point.

John: I agree about the human quality of the cello's timbre. The viola seems even moreso to me. It's part of why I'm drawn to both instruments.

David: Are you talking about a CD of the program (which rights prevent us from distribute) or one of Zuill's own CDs? If the latter, see the Public Radio Music Source link to his CDs on our homepage.

By Vaughn Ormseth at October 17, 2005 5:25 PM


Zuill, you know me already but I would like to say that :
Some cellist impress by a dazzling technique, as flawless and polished as a diamond. Some impress by the intensity of their vision, their genius for saying something fresh with a musical phrase that the listener may have heard a thousand times before. Others by their daring, their willingness to push themselves beyond the boundaries of safety, perhaps by choosing an andacious tempo, or by producing some extraordinary and startling tone-color : Zuill Bailey does all this and more.
Zuill Bayley is a player peculiarly responsive to character, he can find and illuminate the character of everything he performs, his play is full of life, color, lyricism and drama. He always produce a gorgeous, hushed, velvet sound with a bow that seemed to go forever. Zuill Bailey is a very fine musician indeed, and, with Awadin Pratt, part of a superb duo.
François A. (France)

By François A. Valadié at October 22, 2005 12:29 PM


Im in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Just came from a concert where i had the pleasure to heard Zuill...Oh my God!!! Im still shocked, impressed, stunned....he is just amazing! I felt like a child infront of a magic act. LOVED IT!

By Marielle Liriano at November 23, 2005 8:12 PM