Kim Kashkashian – J.S. Bach: Six Suites for Viola Solo


*A typical PR firms meeting regarding the actions of a punk musician*

The Newbie: What if he vomit into the crowd?

The Boss: What decade is this, the fucking ’40s? My grandma’s seen that. Give me something fresh.

The Newbie: Okay … what is he urinat-

The Boss: You’re just not getting it! Come on, synergize you stupid fuck!

The Newbie: … what if he rolled around on shards of glass-

The Boss: Iggy Pop. Next!

The Newbie: What if he took out a huge Nazi Flag and-

The Boss: Manson!

The Newbie: Lit your pubes on fire?

The Boss: Jimmy Urine. 

The Newbie: Okay then. He drinks urine and literally eats a piece of shit. 

The Boss: GG Allin.

The Newbie: Are you fucking kidding me?

*The same conversation inside a classical music PR firm*

The Newbie: Could she play it on viola?

The Boss: Leave!


Everyone’s heard Bach’s cello suites. They’re fucking everywhere. If you’ve only heard a single classical song, it’s probably this. So when it comes to performing a piece that listeners have heard a thousand times, how do you paint that shit gold? That’s the fun of classical music: new interpretation. See, the world doesn’t have that OG cello suite manuscript from Bach. The only copy we’ve got is from the second wife, Anna Magdalena. And, who knows, maybe she was pissed for giving birth to thirteen kids (ya, you read that right) so she fucked with it. This leaves a lot of this up to interpretation. And, though that’s the case, we’ve got musicologists and other motherfuckers all worked up that this should be historically accurate (this idea is ironically abbreviated as H.I.P. [Historically informed performance]). But, even in that case, some think this shit was made to be played on the violoncello da spalla, which is smaller than a cello but bigger than a viola. So, what’s right? In the end, I find it hard to give a shit. What concerns me is how it feels.  

Kim Kashkashian has been rocking that viola game for years. She’s a player thoroughly embedded into modern classical music. She’s got Grammys, commissioned pieces from motherfuckers like Tigran Mansurian, Peter Eötvös, and Betty Olivero, and has played for the biggest swinging dicks in the game. When she drops Bach’s “cello” suites, but done up on viola, people fucking listen. That means something in this strange world. And she’s been doing this shit since the late ’70s. 

With KashKash, I don’t think you can ever go wrong. She’s the bomb. On this album, she slows lines down so you hear every note. Just take a listen to how to treats Suite 6. Damn! I thought I knew this piece. Instead of a dark yet wholesome cello ripping through the room in fat tones, the viola dances on top of this shit like it doesn’t have a care in the world. Listening to this feels like the first time smoking pot: you keep asking yourself why you’re smiling. You know nothing is funny. You know nobody’s told a joke. But yet, there you are, smiling like the happy fucking moron you are. Please, don’t confuse lightness with a lack of depth. Shit doesn’t work like that. KashKash can punch out the feels like only a virtuoso can. But she doesn’t have to bash your head against the kitchen counter to get the point across. She doesn’t vomit, piss, or roll on shards of glass in order to make you listen. It’s in her subtle dips, flourishing trills, and with playful yet articulate bowing that she gets your higher than motherfucking Snoop Dogg. KashKash is the fucking shit. 





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