March 04, 2024

An Immersive Journey Across Bach’s Life with Cellist Max Lilja

Pentatone releases Six Shades of Bach, together with cellist Max Lilja, in May 2024.

An Electronic Reimagination of Bach’s Iconic Cello Suites

Finnish cellist Max Lilja, one of the founders of Apocalyptica, takes us on an immersive journey across Johann Sebastian Bach’s life; through merging the iconic Cello Suites with an ambient composition, Lilja enlightens the space around the solitary voice. 

To emphasise the continuous transcendence of a life, Lilja builds a solid sense of identity for each suite. The cello is embraced by the sonic world like an individual by the universe. Lilja’s playing has influences from the span of 300 years of existence of the suites, evolving from the simplicity of the 1st suite to almost Romantic in the 6th. His interpretation is inspired by Bach’s rhythmical ideas that expand suite by suite and, as life throughout the years, become more complex and multilayered. 

After years of pioneering cello artistry in rock and electronic music, as well as composing for various projects, Lilja returns to his classical roots. With Six Shades of Bach, he presents a first of a kind crossover work, contributing to dialogues about the cello suites and survival of classical music. 

Max Lilja makes his Pentatone debut. 

“The iconic Bach cello suites are one of the most sacred works in music history and fantastic music, as well. Sonically though, they are only a monologue of a lonely instrument. In this work, I wanted to enlighten the space around the solitary voice; to merge the original cello score with a sonic world. Together they create a drama, taking us on a journey across Bach’s life: from the time of composing the first suites in the small town of Köthen where he was employed by the court, and through the years spent in vibrant Leipzig, where he worked for the church and lived for the rest of his life, all the way to his death and eternity.

Art is always a product of its time. Interpretation of a music piece can offer a medium to reflect the world at a particular moment. Aiming to see the world from different perspectives, I sometimes find new musical paths. Though I always kept playing the Bach suites for my own joy, I didn’t think I had the cellists’ Bach-cross to bear. With Six Shades of Bach, I return to my classical roots with years of experience in playing mostly rock and electronic, as well as composing for various projects. By merging the original score with a sonic world, I present to you a unique work that contributes to dialogues about the cello suites and survival of classical music.”

Max Lilja

Digital Release Date: 3 MAY 2024

Physical Release: MAY 2024

Released as 1 Standard CD and in digital formats for streaming and high-resolution downloads.