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The Bach Cello Suites : History - Analysis - Interpretation - Program Notes - CD Recordings - Videos.
The most comprehensive study of the Bach cello suites.

 

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The SIX BACH CELLO SOLO SUITES
History - Analysis - interpretation -
CD's - Videos

Harmonic Analysis of Preludes 1 & 3
of the Bach Cello Suites

An objective analysis of
BOW TECHNIQUE

The amazing structure of the
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Poems by Han Shan (Cold Mountain) edited by Georg Mertens

Poems by Georg Mertens

 

 

 

OUR CD's

within Australia all CD's are sent
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All CD's are $ 20
(Bach Cello Suites 2 CD's $ 30)

(click here for CD - page)

 

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( No Download has the quality

of the original CD ! )

 

 

J.S. Bach - The Six Cello Suites
Georg Mertens - solo cello

(Click on CD cover to listen on iTunes)

 

An Interpretation according to the
dynamic mapping by Bach


 

TRACKS

DISC 1

Suite No 1 in G major BWV 1007

1      Prelude(Dotzauer) 2:23
2      Allemande            4:48
3      Courante              2:51
4      Sarabande           3:15
5      Menuets               3:22
6      Gigue                   1:45

Suite No 2 in D minor BWV 1008

7      Prelude               4:16
8      Allemande         3:52
9      Courante             2:22
10    Sarabande          4:56
11    Menuets              3:26
12    Gigue                  2:53

Suite No 6 in D major BWV 1012

13      Prelude            5:20
14      Allemande        7:19
15      Courante          4:12
16      Sarabande       5:50
17      Gavottes          4:40
18      Gigue               5:01


DISC 2

Suite No 3 in C major BWV 1009

1      Prelude               3:40
2      Allemande           4:04
3      Courante             3:34
4      Sarabande          4:30
5      Bourrees             4:04
6      Gigue                  3:20

Suite No 4 in Eb major BWV 1010

7      Prelude                4:22
8      Allemande            4:47
9      Courante              3:45
10    Sarabande           4:35
11    Bourrees              5:01
12    Gigue                   2:45

Suite No 5 in C minor BWV 1011

13      Prelude               6:45
14      Allemande           6:21
15      Courante             2:33
16      Sarabande          2:59
17      Gavotte               5:10
18      Gigue                  2:03

 

To purchase a set of the CD's within Australia
click on Paypal icon below
AU $30 - FREE shipping within Australia

To purchase a set of the CD's Internationally
click on Paypal icon below
US $35 (CD $30 + $5 international shipping)


Click here to listen / download and order CD's via CD Baby:
"Bach six Cello Suites" on CD Baby

Click here to listen / download and order CD's via Amazon:
"Bach Six Cello Suites" on Amazon


 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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Early Recordings of the Bach Suites
by Georg Mertens (-Moussa)

 

2000 - Music at Jenolan Caves


The first recording of the Cello concerts at Jenolan Caves (2000). Still a few left!

Suite 1 - Prelude, Menuet I & II
Suite 2 - Prelude, Sarabande, Menuet I & II
Suite 3 - Prelude, Bourree I & II
Suite 4 - Prelude
Suite 5 - Allemande
Suite 6 - Prelude



Georg Mertens (-Moussa)
Music at Jenolan Caves

The first recording of the Cello concerts at Jenolan Caves (2000). - Still a few left!

To purchase a CD within Australia
click on Paypal icon below
AU $20 - FREE shipping within Australia

To purchase a CD internationally
click on Paypal icon below
US $25 (CD $20 + $5 international shipping)


Click here to listen / download and order CD's via CD Baby:
"Cello Solos" on CD Baby



 

 

 

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2007 - CELLO FAVOURITES


Georg Mertens - cello
Gavin Tipping - piano

This recording features:

Suite 1 - Prelude & Courante
(also:
Bach - Gounod - Ave Maria
Bach - Arioso)

 



Georg Mertens & Gavin Tipping

'Cello Favourites'

 

A collection of the stunning cello student repertoir
form Breval to Romberg (2008)

 

Tracks:

1 L.v. Beethoven - Sonatina d minor

2 J.B. Breval - Sonata C major Allegro

3 G.F. Handel - Aria

4 D. Dalla Bella - Giga - see sheetmusic

5 H. Eccles - Sonata g minor Largo

6 -- Allegro - see cello part

7 J.S. Bach Suite No I - G major: Prelude

8 -- Courante

9 Bach - Gounod- Ave Maria - see sheetmusic

10 J.S. Bach - Arioso

11 A. Vivaldi - Sonata e minor: - Largo - see sheetmusic

12 - Allegro - see sheetmusic

13 G.B. Pergolesi - Nina

14 D. Popper - Happy (Fond) Recollections

15 G. Faure - Sicilienne

16 C. Cui - Oriental

17 P.I. Tschaikovsky - ChansonTriste

18 G. Marie - La Cinquantaine - see sheetmusic

19 P.I. Tschaikovsky - Valse Sentimental

20 B. Romberg - Sonata e minor Allegro non troppo

 


Georg and Gavin in rehearsal (photo Berkojoey)

 

Georg Mertens & Gavin Tipping
CELLO FAVOURITES


A collection of the stunning cello student repertoir
form Breval to Romberg (2008)

(Program notes for this CD in the left column)

To purchase a CD within Australia click on Paypal icon below
AU $20 - FREE shipping within Australia

To purchase a CD internationally
click on Paypal icon below
US $25 (CD $20 + $5 international shipping)


Click here to listen / download and order CD's via CD Baby:
"Cello Favourites" on CD Baby

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"Cello Favourites" on Amazon

 

 

 


 

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2009 - CELLO SOLOS



This recording features only one recording of the Bach Suites:

Suite 5 - Sarabande
(on my old 1690 cello)

 

Georg Mertens

'Cello Solos'

 

Tracks:

1 Georg Mertens - Cathedral Ciaconna - see sheet music

2 Georg Mertens - Variations on Neidhardt's “Maienzeit” - see sheetmusic

3 David Popper - Hungarian Rhapsody op 68

4 Camille Saint-Saens - The Swan - from The Carnival of the Animals - see sheetmusic

5 Georg Mertens - Arabian Improvisation

6 Manuel de Falla - Nana from Suite Populaire Espagnole - see sheetmusic

7 Isaac Albeniz - Asturias (Leyenda) from Suite Espanola ( arr. for cello solo by G M) - see sheetmusic

8 Astor Piazzolla - Verano Porteno ( arr. for cello solo by G M) - see sheetmusic

9 J.S.Bach - Sarabande from Suite V

10 Georg Mertens - Erh-Hu Improvisation

11 Heitor Villa-Lobos - Prelude No 3 from 5 Preludes for Guitar ( arr. for cello solo by G M) - see sheet music

12 Georg Mertens - Tango Celloguitar - see sheetmusic

13 Jules Massenet - Meditation from Thais (arr. for cello by G M) - see sheetmusic

14 William Squire - Tarantella op 23

15 Georg Mertens - Spanish Romance - see sheetmusic

16 Sergej Rachmaninov - Vocalise op 34, 14

17 Ich armes Maegdelein (Collection Forster 1546) - see sheetmusic

 

Georg Mertens
CELLO SOLOS
- LIVE recordings from the Concerts in the Caves (2009)

Including World First Recordings for cello solo of:
'Albeniz Asturias', 'Piazzolla Verano Porteno', 'Spanish Romance', 'Maytime Variations', 'Erh-Hu' & 'Arabian' Improvisations for Cello Solo

To purchase a CD within Australia
click on Paypal icon below
AU $20 - FREE shipping within Australia

To purchase a CD internationally
click on Paypal icon below
AU $25 (CD $20 + $5 international shipping)


Click here to listen / download and order CD's via CD Baby:
"Cello Solos" on CD Baby

Click here to listen / download and order CD's via Amazon:
"Cello Solos" on Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

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Bach J.S. - CELLO SUITE No 1 in G major BWV 1007
transcribed for guitar solo in D major:

There are many editions of this wonderful music.
In general they are written by guitarists, who have never played the original.
Before I arranged this edition I had performed and recorded the Suite for decades on cello.
I have also played the 4 original 18th century manuscripts.
This edition includes the notes, which I miss being there, limited by the impossibility playing distant notes together on the cello.
I wrote my first attempt in 1995 after being horrified by the transcription by John Duarte.

 

 

To the transcription of the Cello Suites:

A - Bach did not transcribe from cello/violin to guitar/lute by adding nothing.
Only one movement of his own transcriptions remained unchanged, single lined: the Sarabande of Suite 3 / cello No 5, which occupies a very special position as a movement in Bach's works.
(See "the B A C H theme" in the Sarabande in the "cello solos" section).


B - Although he was the composer, he had such faithfulness to his own composition he did not once took a melody note out or changed it.
(exception: In the Gigue of Suite 3 (cello No 5) he added a rest in the melody /
in the Allemande he double dotted the rhythm of some ornaments in the lute transcription, considering the higher clarity of fast notes on the lute).

C - It follows: We must not change melody notes! (which is done in many transcriptions)

D - Bach added notes, often a counterpart in the polyphonic style, with a sense of regularity in pattern and rhythm, not taking away from the original impact and character of the movement.

 

 

 

Bach Cello Suite 1
(guitar solo)

- Transcription in D major
BWV 1007 [grading 7 out of 10]


See "Sheetmusic"



(beginning of the Sarabande)

 

 

 

 


Bach J.S. - From CELLO SUITE No 3 in C major BWV 1009

transcribed for guitar solo in A major:

Bach Cello Suite 3 Sarabande
(guitar solo)

- Transcription in A major
Most of the transcription of this Sarabande are far too full with masses of notes added in chords and bass.
This slim edition comes much closer to the impact and musical message of the original cello part. It is also much easier to play.
BWV 1009 [grading 6-7 out of 10]
Free download for now.

 

 


Bach Cello Suite 3 Gigue
(guitar solo)

- Transcription in A major
Most of the transcription of this Gigue I regard as too full. This edition is smooth to play.
BWV 1009 [grading 8 out of 10]
Free download for now.

 

 

 

Bach J.S. - From CELLO SUITE No 6 in D major BWV 1012
transcribed for guitar solo in E major:

 

Bach Cello Suite 6 Gavotte I & II (guitar solo)

- Transcription in E major
This edition is very close to the original cello part.
BWV 1012 [grading 6-7 out of 10]
Free download for now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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J.S. Bach - The Six Cello Suites
Georg Mertens - solo cello

(Click on CD cover to listen on iTunes)

 

An Interpretation according to the
dynamic mapping by Bach


 

TRACKS

DISC 1

Suite No 1 in G major BWV 1007

1      Prelude(Dotzauer) 2:23
2      Allemande            4:48
3      Courante              2:51
4      Sarabande           3:15
5      Menuets               3:22
6      Gigue                   1:45

Suite No 2 in D minor BWV 1008

7      Prelude               4:16
8      Allemande         3:52
9      Courante             2:22
10    Sarabande          4:56
11    Menuets              3:26
12    Gigue                  2:53

Suite No 6 in D major BWV 1012

13      Prelude            5:20
14      Allemande        7:19
15      Courante          4:12
16      Sarabande       5:50
17      Gavottes          4:40
18      Gigue               5:01


DISC 2

Suite No 3 in C major BWV 1009

1      Prelude               3:40
2      Allemande           4:04
3      Courante             3:34
4      Sarabande          4:30
5      Bourrees             4:04
6      Gigue                  3:20

Suite No 4 in Eb major BWV 1010

7      Prelude                4:22
8      Allemande            4:47
9      Courante              3:45
10    Sarabande           4:35
11    Bourrees              5:01
12    Gigue                   2:45

Suite No 5 in C minor BWV 1011

13      Prelude               6:45
14      Allemande           6:21
15      Courante             2:33
16      Sarabande          2:59
17      Gavotte               5:10
18      Gigue                  2:03

 

To purchase a set of CD's (2) within Australia
click on Paypal icon below
AU $30 - FREE shipping within Australia

To purchase a set of CD's (2) Internationally
click on Paypal icon below
US $35 (CD $30 + $5 international shipping)


Click here to listen / download and order CD's via CD Baby:
"Bach six Cello Suites" on CD Baby

Click here to listen / download and order CD's via Amazon:
"Bach Six Cello Suites" on Amazon



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_______________

________

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J.S. Bach - The Six Cello Suites
Georg Mertens - solo cello

(Click on CD cover to listen on iTunes)

 

An Interpretation according to the
dynamic mapping by Bach


 

TRACKS

DISC 1

Suite No 1 in G major BWV 1007

1      Prelude(Dotzauer) 2:23
2      Allemande            4:48
3      Courante              2:51
4      Sarabande           3:15
5      Menuets               3:22
6      Gigue                   1:45

Suite No 2 in D minor BWV 1008

7      Prelude               4:16
8      Allemande         3:52
9      Courante             2:22
10    Sarabande          4:56
11    Menuets              3:26
12    Gigue                  2:53

Suite No 6 in D major BWV 1012

13      Prelude            5:20
14      Allemande        7:19
15      Courante          4:12
16      Sarabande       5:50
17      Gavottes          4:40
18      Gigue               5:01


DISC 2

Suite No 3 in C major BWV 1009

1      Prelude               3:40
2      Allemande           4:04
3      Courante             3:34
4      Sarabande          4:30
5      Bourrees             4:04
6      Gigue                  3:20

Suite No 4 in Eb major BWV 1010

7      Prelude                4:22
8      Allemande            4:47
9      Courante              3:45
10    Sarabande           4:35
11    Bourrees              5:01
12    Gigue                   2:45

Suite No 5 in C minor BWV 1011

13      Prelude               6:45
14      Allemande           6:21
15      Courante             2:33
16      Sarabande          2:59
17      Gavotte               5:10
18      Gigue                  2:03

 

To purchase a set of CD's (2) within Australia
click on Paypal icon below
AU $30 - FREE shipping within Australia

To purchase a set of CD's (2) Internationally
click on Paypal icon below
US $35 (CD $30 + $5 international shipping)



Click here to listen / download and order CD's via CD Baby:
"Bach six Cello Suites" on CD Baby

Click here to listen / download and order CD's via Amazon:
"Bach Six Cello Suites" on Amazon



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

J.S. Bach - The Six Cello Suites
Georg Mertens - solo cello

(Click on CD cover to listen on iTunes)

 

An Interpretation according to the
dynamic mapping by Bach


 

TRACKS

DISC 1

Suite No 1 in G major BWV 1007

1      Prelude(Dotzauer) 2:23
2      Allemande            4:48
3      Courante              2:51
4      Sarabande           3:15
5      Menuets               3:22
6      Gigue                   1:45

Suite No 2 in D minor BWV 1008

7      Prelude               4:16
8      Allemande         3:52
9      Courante             2:22
10    Sarabande          4:56
11    Menuets              3:26
12    Gigue                  2:53

Suite No 6 in D major BWV 1012

13      Prelude            5:20
14      Allemande        7:19
15      Courante          4:12
16      Sarabande       5:50
17      Gavottes          4:40
18      Gigue               5:01


DISC 2

Suite No 3 in C major BWV 1009

1      Prelude               3:40
2      Allemande           4:04
3      Courante             3:34
4      Sarabande          4:30
5      Bourrees             4:04
6      Gigue                  3:20

Suite No 4 in Eb major BWV 1010

7      Prelude                4:22
8      Allemande            4:47
9      Courante              3:45
10    Sarabande           4:35
11    Bourrees              5:01
12    Gigue                   2:45

Suite No 5 in C minor BWV 1011

13      Prelude               6:45
14      Allemande           6:21
15      Courante             2:33
16      Sarabande          2:59
17      Gavotte               5:10
18      Gigue                  2:03

 

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The Six Cello Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach


History - Analysis - Detailed Interpretation - Audio - Video

The most comprehensive site on the Bach Cello Suites.

Copyright for this webpage by Georg Mertens
(c) 2012 Katoomba / Australia
Published on Bach's date of Birth 21st March (2012).

Quotation and references to original and new thoughts or material from this site needs to state the author of this website.
This includes the following subjects:
* the citation of the name BACH in Suite 5
* the concept of "dynamiic mapping"
* a possible different genesis of the Suites.
Any use of material of this site, which can make profit is only permitted after arrangement with the author.


Contact:
email: georgcello@hotmail.com

[Note: for all online translations: 'slur' means on this web page: all notes under the "slur" (= bow) in one bow direction]

 

 


CONTENTS:


RIGHT COLUMN

THE EDITIONS OF THE 6 CELLO SUITES IN HISTORICAL ORDER (85 Editions)
- see right column (or click here)

EDITIONS OF THE CELLO SUITES for OTHER INSTRUMENTS - see lower right column (or click here)

LEFT COLUMN

AUDIO - CD's - Downloads: see left column (or click here for complete recordings)

ARRANGEMENTS OF THE CELLO SUITES for GUITAR (the actual sheet music) - see lower left column (or click here)
[For more transcriptions for cello & guitar click here]

-------------------------------

CENTRE COLUMN

INTERPRETING the SIX SUITES (click here)

BOWINGS (click here)

Follow "Simile" - Baroque or modern Bow - Notes & Slurs in the manuscripts - Slur-shifts - Slurs or Phrases - Phrasing in Song - Instrumental Phrasing

The Manuscripts (click here)

The oldest manuscript by Kellner - The manuscript by Anna Magdalena Bach - Was Anna Magdalena the Writer of the Suites?
- Manuscript C - Manuscript D
- Lost Manuscripts

The Prints (click here)

The "Loure" in Cotelle's print - Groups of Print Editions - A "Landmarks" comparison of the early Sources - A possible (different) Genesis of the Suites
- Conclusion

Interpreting (click here)

A general and practical comment - Playing by Memory - Written Dynamics

Dynamic Mapping & Phrasing (click here)

Dynamic Mapping
- The Implied Dynamics in the Melodic Line - "Hidden Scales"
The macro-dynamic Guide
-
- Step Dynamic - Polyphony, Counterpoint - Melody & Accompaniment - Repetitions & Echoes - Rhythmical Dynamics
The micro-dynamic Guide (click here)
-
- Baroque Style - Vibrato - Structure & the new Romanticism in Baroque Dress.

Harmonic Analysis (click here for a harmonic Analysis of Prelude 1 & 3 [linked web page])


THE SUITE and its MOVEMENTS - History & Characteristics (click here)

Prelude - Allemande - Courante - Sarabande - Menuet - Bourree - Gavotte - Gigue (click on movement to forward)

General overview of the harmonic structure of the dance-movements (click here)


INTERPRETATION in DETAIL:

Suite I (click here)

Suite II (click here)

Suite III (click here)

Suite IV (click here)

Suite V (click here) - Including: The hitherto unknown "B - A - C - H" citation in 4 movements of the 5th Cello Suite

Suite VI (click here)


The Bach Cello Suites during my life (click here)

To the name "Bach" (click here)

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

DONATION: A contribution to this project would be appreciated.

 

The Task of INTERPRETING the SIX CELLO SUITES

The 6 Cello Suites by J.S. Bach are one of the most fascinating subjects in the entire music history. And why? Because there is no original.
Their insecurity in what is true, might be true makes the suites a field of speculation and clever forensic thinking.
(Worth to mention: There is another famous person, quite parallel, where we don't have the original work, but like in our case, only 4 major surviving texts - whose female accompanier had also a similar name, not Anna Magdalena but Mary Magdalena).

Interpreting the Suites for cello solo is a complicated task. How do we cellists really envy the violinists:
They can comfortably rely on Bach's original manuscript, where as cellists have to fall back on four manuscripts from the 18th century and try to work out their interpretation by comparing these, guessing what Bach might have written himself.

The history of the originals of the violin Sonatas and Partitas is also quite peculiar:
Of all places the originals have not been found in Saxony, but in Petersburg / Russia, some 90 years after Bach's death. They were used as cheap secondhand "used" wrapping paper in a butter shop.
Luckily the customer looked at the wrapping paper and found it worth not to throw away or burn, but to have a good look at it and investigate its origin.
I often wondered if the next customer was rather short sighted or less cultured and burnt the cello suites for lighting his fire!
(According to Wikipedia a collector named Poellschau found the manuscript of the violin Sonatas underneath a pile of music far away from his home in Petersburg.
He also purchased at another time another original of the Partitas.
This story does not make sense: A Bach collector makes his way to Petersburg to go then accidentally through a pile without knowing what's in it and finds the Bach Partitas?
How much more likely is it, that he was contacted after it had been found accidentally)

Luckily, except of a few discrepancies, the four manuscripts seem to agree on the notes, but with the bowings it is a different matter.
Two of the manuscripts, the later ones - unknown copiers, generally called "C" and "D" - show similar bowings in many parts, so that some historians believe they might either be copied from each other or at least are from a common (unknown) source.
The other two sources, the manuscript by Bach's wife Anna Magdalena and by Bach's friend Johann Peter Kellner (an organist and flautist), which is the oldest, are so different and individual that it is hard to believe they come from the same source.

As an example on how complex the decisions can be regarding on how to play, I selected the first 4 bars of Prelude G major of Suite 1 (see "Suite 1" below).
The reader can find there typical details for analyzing and interpreting the different texts.


For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com


BOWINGS

Violinists have only to worry about 4 questions regarding the bowings:
1) which is meant to be the first note of the hand written slur?
2) which is the last note of the hand written slur?
3) where are slurs left out, but were meant to follow the pattern from before
4) Do I want to play this bowing with today's bow or do I better modify the slurs, keeping the original idea in mind?

Us cellists of course are confronted with these 4 questions as well, but at least times 4: they have to be applied to every manuscript.
Apart from this, the manuscripts are messier than Bach's fantastic clear and flowing hand writing.
Also, Bach's own bowings, in difference to most manuscripts, are very consistent.
Then - missing the original - we need also to look at a number of early prints because they seem to originate from further manuscripts.
Last of course we need to create our own edition out of all this information including the practicality for our technique and our taste and style!

 

 


Follow: "Simile"

With many Baroque composers like e.g. Vivaldi it was common to indicate at the beginning of the piece the intended general bowings.
The player was meant to understand the character of the movement and apply the same bowing to parallel phrases.
The idea to change bowings in one movement for the same kind of phrases contradicts the Baroque style.
If e.g. at the end of the movement as an exception a different bowing was required - like to support a ritardando - it had to be written in especially.
Up to this point a bowing stated at the beginning was meant to be applied to all related phrases.
A good example is the start of the Allemande of Suite 1; Anna Magdalena writes plenty of slurs in bar 1, and no slur at all in bar 2 (see in the Allemande below).

 

BAROQUE or MODERN BOW

As to manuscripts and prints we can draw a clear line:
All
manuscripts are written for the Baroque bow, before 1800.
All prints are from the period of our bow today, even the earliest ones.
Our bow today was invented c 1800 in France by Tourte. At the time of Cotelle's edition it had replaced the Baroque bow in France.
Dotzauer was responsible for changing the hand position on the modern bow to our bow hold today, although everyone already played the modern bow.
Up to this change cellists still clung to the old bow hold by not holding the bow at the nut, but slightly inwards.
- It puts the Dotzauer edition on an interesting spot:
Of all editions it is the neatest marriage between the most available manuscripts - perhaps even an original by Bach, being the cellist in Leipzig - and the playability with our modern bow.
The idea of freedom from the originals would have not gone far in his first edition, as he must have felt responsible for both:
firstly bringing the Suites to the world as they were meant and written and secondly making them playable and sounding well for the new bow.
(unfortunately his first edition is unavailable; the still existing editor Breitkopf was so kind to send me a copy of page one, which is displayed in the right column)

The difference between the Baroque bow and the modern bow is not the length of slurs or where they are and are not.
The Baroque bow makes a different sound with the same slurs.
Because it is not hold on the end and the hair is looser, the possible pressure is much lighter and also the crass difference of up and down bow as we have with the modern bow, is less prevalent.
To play the Bach Suites more with the sound Bach would have heard, we need to remove the strong harsh accents, which the modern bow creates at the nut.
Either we move our hand more towards the middle of the bow (c 3-5 cm makes already a considerable difference) or we just don't use the very lower part of the bow, avoid playing at the nut.
The main place to play the Suites should be the middle of the bow, upper half and in long bows and double-stops the lower half, but not the last few cm at the nut.

 

NOTES via SLURS in the manuscripts:

In the 4 manuscripts the prime focus were the notes, bowings were additional information and were sometimes left out.
At the time "white-out" didn't exist. The only way to correct was blacking a section out.
For bowings this meant: If a slur was written by mistake, it was left in. Many places have superfluous slurs (see e.g. below in Prelude 1 the first bars by manuscript "D").
By accident too short or too long slurs looked better than messing around by correcting, so they remained as they were.
Apart from that, If corrected, how would the reader be sure, which one is the original, which one the corrected one, the longer or the shorter slur, since they were not able to make the old one unseen?


"White-out" didn't exist. A mistake remained a mistake unless blacked out. Here Sarabande 5 in manuscript "D".
Suite 5 has the most corrections, as if the scordatura confused.
Altogether we can only admire the power of concentration of the manuscript writers.
There are sets of dozens of pages with not one single mistake in the notes (I suppose the environment was quieter).

It is generally assumed, that one copier (called "G") was in between Bach's second original and the manuscripts "C", "D" and Cotelle's first print.
It does not make sense to me; the differences of the 3 sources appear to be disorganized in an unconvincing manner as if confused by miracle errors.
I will investigate the perhaps not so miracle errors below in the "landmarks" comparison.


Slur-shifts

When writing by hand the notes are written first and then the slurs. The physical action is to go with the right hand back and draw in the slurs (and also the accidentals).
When writing fast, this action of going back tends to become inaccurate. Slurs are also often too high up without being clear if they are meant for 2,3, or 4 notes.
Slurs shift a bit to the right (the arm didn't reach far enough back) or slurs curl up too early, seemingly cutting off the last note of the unit.
Comparing and common sense have to decide what is meant.
A good example can be seen in Cotelle's print of the Gigue & Menuet of Suite 1 (see below).

SLURS or PHRASES - (translation: slur means here, more than one note in one bow direction)

This paragraph answers the question, if in general the manuscripts indicate bowings at all - the technical execution of playing several notes with in one bow -
or do they indicate, that all notes under one slur belong to the same phrase.

In the violin Partitas and Sonatas, Bach indicates clearly bowings.
So is the indication in the manuscripts of the cello Suites. They are copies from Bach's original including his bowings.
Even if there are steps in between or changes have taken place: there is no general change on what a slur represents; it would offend the act of copying.
The problem arises from the fact, that the two oldest manuscripts (by Kellner and Anna Magdalena) are not written by string players.
They get the bowings often wrong, and they might indicate bowings similar to slurs on a keyboard instrument.

On the string instruments and the keyboard slurring is used for the same purpose: to connect several notes to be played smoothly together.
This musical goal gets of course mixed up with the technical description, when the writer is not a string player.

Baroque and later composers wrote also often "ideal" slurs. They could be many bars long, impossible to play.
In this case the notion that they belong together, are one smooth phrase, meant any change of bow direction is just a technical necessity.
Even modern composers use "bows" or slurs to indicate the smoothness or togetherness of phrases or within a phrase.
Beethoven does it and even 21st century composers.

Generally phrasing was not indicated.
It is sometimes assumed, when a slur is too long to play, that it indicated phrasing.
This is not so. Many phrases don't even include a slur. If they include slurs, the slur is usually shorter than the phrase.
It is a rare case, that a slur is longer than a bow length. In this case it indicates the smoothness rather than the phrase.




A long slur in the Prelude of Suite 4, here Anna Magdalena. This slur is shown in all 4 manuscripts, too long to play in one bow.
Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, 21st century composers still write long slurs like this leaving it technically up to the player how best to divide.

The slur is meant to be understood as: if it would be possible to slur all notes under this bow, that would be ideal.
since it is not, every player may choose they own way closest to the sound of the (too) long slur.

PHRASING in SONG

A phrase is literally the length of a breath: a melody sung (or words spoken) within one breath.
Phrasing means shaping the melody within one breath musically, with its own little climax and its little preparations, a finish of the phrase or a connection the next one.

[Phrasing is an overwhelmingly general phenomenon:
Every sentence we speak has a melody: usually we start mf, progress to the climax and lower our voice to the full stop.
Phrasing is so universal, we use the expectation that everyone wishes to complete a phrase, when we ask a question:
Purposefully we raise at the end of the sentence the voice, indicating: this phrase is unfinished.
Would you please finish the phrase (by giving me the proper answer)?

Often the highest note is the climax, but then another contributing factor may be the rhythmical aspect.
The difficulty is, there is no formula.
The simple notion, that mf or piano is not a monotonous dynamic, but rather a starting point or a middle ground helps to discover the inner music of a phrase.


INSTRUMENTAL PHRASING

(We have not to mix up slurs - bowings - and phrases.
For example in "jumpy" dances like a Bourree or a Gigue we find longer passages without slurs, but of course we phrasing - without any slurs.
Often we find whole scale passages - a whole phrase - which we can play either detached or with a long slur - without affecting the phrasing at all.
Also, if we find slurs, they often don't describe the full length of the phrase. There is no direct relation between the length of slurs and the length of phrases).

No note stands by itself. Each note stands in context with its neighbours. The smaller unit it belongs to we call a phrase.
No phrase stands by itself.
Usually a phrase relates closely to its neighbour. Often one phrase is answered by the next one.

Since in instrumental compositions we don't need to rely on the length of a breath, we can continue playing breathing independently.
Phrasing developed into a much wider dimension.
"Phrases" can be very long, too long for a breath, in fact the word itself seems not really suitable any more.
Many phrases are linked together to form a larger dynamic development, often lead by a scale or a melody in the bass line, but also in other parts.
A more complex interplay has developed of shorter and longer "units", interweaving with each other.

Because here in our case we have in the Suites to do with dances, the shorter "phrases" or units are in general determined by rhythm.
I call these shorter and rhythmical units "rhythmical mapping" (see below).
These shorter units are embedded in a larger architecture, still connected in a unit like a "large phrase".
These larger units in the Suites have a stronger melodic component relating to long structures of up and down movements.
I explain these in the chapter on "melodic mapping' (see below).
I believe the term "DYNAMIC MAPPING" describes the instrumental compositions of the Suite better than the term "phrase" from vocal compositions .

 

 

THE MANUSCRIPTS

A point should be made to the psychology of the manuscripts in difference to prints.
Manuscripts were often written for a person, often oneself or for a friend.
That means if it was oneself, of course the writer had in mind what was meant and often didn't bother to write it in, if there was an inaccuracy or something missing.
If it was written for a friend, you could talk to them and say: here I wrote this slur, it was a mistake - but I mean that.
These kind of manuscripts are individual and for one particular person and therefore can't be taken as a complete information.
The additional conversations clearing up misunderstandings are missing and are allowed to be missing: they could be explained.
Publishing was never intended.
Today the manuscripts are treated as if every single note and slur is gold worth. At the time the writer could have told their friend: Sorry about that line, there are mistakes in it, I was tired.
Then he/she explained and it was in both minds - copier and receiver - but never on paper.
The manuscript by Anna Magdalena's and Kellner's belong to this category of copies.


Prelude Suite 6, manuscript "D"
We can see the dynamic indications "po" for piano and "for" for forte.
Of course bar 1 has no indication (the forte is missing) although bar 2 indicates the echo, because there is not enough space above the slur of line 2.
You understand that, surely? So hopefully does everyone.
Manuscripts were written for friends or at least people we can talk to and explain things; everything is fine, everything understood.

There was another reason for copying: collecting by collectors of music.
These collectors collected whatever they could get hold of from composers they regarded as worth it.
Manuscript "C" and "D" stem from large collection of hundreds of pages, music for more than one instrument, impossible to have been all played by the collector.
The copying was probably done by paid copyists, e.g. manuscript "C" has been started by one copier and finished by a second one.
Unfortunately none of the probably many enthusiasts house copies have survived; very likely they have been superceded by easier to read prints.
Manuscripts "C" and "D" have rather survived, because they had not been used, and rested in unused collections.
None of the later prints are copies from them.

We can't emphasize enough, that the manuscripts, which were used by cellists at the time, have not survived; not one manuscript with fingerings, personal notes has survived.
Even the copies by Kellner and Anna Magdalena are from collections and - not from cellists.
Because they were not used for playing, it preserved them for us in good shape.
The differences in bowings and other details show, that conscious effort had been made to think about options.
The originator of the options for manuscript "C" and "D" - likely a player, whose manuscripts didn't survive - was surely more accurate in their details than our copiers, who were inconsistent.
We must assume, that several cellists put their thoughts into how to play the Suites.
Moreover, it is very likely that Bach himself went at different stages over the manuscript and changed his mind over quite some details, certain notes and bowings.
This is certainly the case for Anna Magdalena's manuscript. Kellner copied likely from Bach's original, Anna Magdalena includes changes likely made by Johann Sebastian himself.

 

THE oldest MANUSCRIPT BY KELLNER (see also right column)

Kellner's manuscript is the earliest manuscript, written c 1726.
Kellner didn't play the cello or a string instrument. The cello suites are one of many manuscripts of works by J.S.Bach by Kellner.
Copied certainly from Bach's own copy - as Kellner copied also many other works from Bach's original.
It is of our interest, that the notes are as correct as can be.
The bowing aspect includes very likely also the ideas from the first original by Bach, but are treated without much understanding.
To read the slurs / bowings, one need to try to guess what was meant and what is error; which slur replicates the original idea, where is it forgotten, and where it is just placed on the wrong spot or a slur of similar but not correct length. It is less consistent than Anna Magdalena's copy from a few years later.
Interesting is, that Suite 5 has no mention of the scordatura. It seems unlikely, that as a non cello player Kellner would have known where exactly to change the notes.
It opens up the question if the scordatura was a later idea. All other manuscripts are written with scordatura.
The Sarabande exists only of the first few bars, the following Gigue is omitted altogether.

 

THE MANUSCRIPT BY ANNA MAGDALENA BACH (see also right column)

Written c 1727-31.
Positives: Surely copied from Bach's original. Notes are very reliable, as original as can be.
Negatives: Anna Magdalena was not a string player. Bowings are often wrong, can't be taken too serious.
In general, as a singer Anna Magdalena thought in phrases, and if a phrase - e.g. marked with 3 slurs - seemed to sound nicer with 4, she wrote 4, although the bow direction would be messed up.
We also must not forget, that she did this work often after she had put to bed a part of 20 of Bach's children! We can only admire the amazing accuracy of notes and the peace and fluency in her writing considering the circumstances.

A Comparison of Bach's autograph and Anna Magdalena's copy in the Sonatas and Partitas for violin.
In these works both, Bach's autograph and Anna Magdalena's copy have survived and can give us an indication of her accuracy of copying.
The notes are 100% accurate.
The bowings are misunderstood, virtually neglected as a part of greater importance.
We can also see, how strict and consistent Bach's bowings are.
They consider the technical aspect and remain musically simple, repeat the main structure if possible to make sure, the character of the section is not disrupted by irregular bowings.
His attitude seemed to be: bowings need to be consistent; dynamics are expressed within the consistency (not as later C.P.E. Bach used complex slurs for expression, as mentioned below).

On quite some occasions Anna Magdalena shows complex bowings, but in difference to sometimes confusing bowings by her, these are consistent and ready to play.
They makes musical and technical sense.
She would not have invented complex and accurate versions of new bowings, different to the first manuscript.
We must assume she was instructed to change the first version.

One possibility could have been, with her husband Johann Sebastian next to her, he orally instructed her of the changes.
He was not fully happy with the result he had heard so far.

A second possibility could have been, J.S.Bach's son Carl Phillip Emmanuel might have put his ideas forward.
He was already an accomplished composer and is said to have been close to Anna Magdalena.
One reason to consider this option is, that e.g. the bowings in bar 1 - 4 of Suite 1 are logical, but irregular.
J.S.Bach loved simple bowings and does not show in his own manuscripts of the violin Sonatas and Partitas, that he uses complex bowings to express the music.
He goes not further than slurring piano passages and separating them in forte.
Carl Phillip Emmanuel though indulges in details rather than the broad picture, and the suggestions in Anna Magdalena's copy would fit his style.

But there is no evidence of any of the two possibilities, only that it is unlikely Anna Magdalena would have invented them in its accuracy.
As to the originality of this version, because no one at all referred to her bowings for 200 years, I assume also, Bach did not write these ideas anywhere else down;
he or his son just instructed Anna Magdalena, when she was writing down these passages and interfered to change them from the first draft.

The ideas were shelved in the manuscript until discovered much later.
Although most historians believe that Anna Magdalena is the most reliable source as she must have copied straight from the original of her husband no edition before Gruemmer (1944) bothers about her bowing (Alexanian published in 1929 her manuscript, but he did not consider her bowings. Her copy was treated ratehr like a matter of interest.
This is truly a miracle and must be explained.
I believe the reason is that her copies remained unused in a private collection.
Bach must have not written a second draft including the changes he or his son proposed in her manuscript.

WAS ANNA MAGDALENA THE WRITER OF THE BACH CELLO SUITES?

(The author Martin Jarvis believed, that Anna Magdalena was not a copier of the cello Suites, but the composer.
The idea is based on the mystery, that the original of J.S. Bach is not known. Well, perhaps it never existed! This is the basic idea.
Anna Magdalena displays in her copy on one hand a similar style of handwriting as J.S., beautiful and flowing, which made the idea of her as a composer more interesting.
Martin Jarvis wrote his book according to Eric Siblin based on studies by Esther Meynell some decades ago)

I think many cello students and players of the Suites are going through a stage, when they considered this thought and I am one of them.
The thought is attractive, seems surprising and original, because it is not the main stream belief.

The idea certainly comes up, because today her manuscript is usually taken as the main source.
The positives supporting the idea are:
Her hand writing is similar to Johann Sebastian's, beautifully flowing, unsually beautiful for just a copy.
Also the cello Suites have a different style than the Violin Sonatas and Partitas.

Why is it then not possible?

Firstly, Bach always acknowledged when he took material from someone else, like in the Notebook for Anna Magdalena he took pieces from his sons. He never claimed he wrote them.
(Only us today ignore Bach's acknowledgement; like Petzold's Menuet's and Musette are often printed as Bach's, but he never claimed them)
We have an original manuscript of Suite No 5 by J.S.Bach , transcribed for lute. It has Bach's signature. He would never have claimed the work, if it wouldn't have been his. He would have referred to Anna Magdalena as the writer and himself as the arranger as he did so with work's by Vivaldi, Gerhard or his sons.
Secondly her copy is exactly in the style and part of the same collection as of other works by J.S.Bach, where we have the original, like the Sonatas and Partitas for violin solo (Anna Magdalena's collection written for Schwanenberger became separated in 1774). Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for violin are called "Part 1" in Anna Magdalen's copy book, Part 2 is missing - the missing cello suites, her copy of Bach's work.

As to the style:
It is rather a compliment to Bach that he writes for the cello differently than for the violin.
I find it is strange to limit the idea what Bach himself could have written to a narrow spectrum of style, which is defined by some later historian or cellist, which would exclude the cello suites.

This is even stranger, as the cello suites include "sister" pieces of movements in other works, which are too similar as not to stem from the same composer.
For example:
Prelude 1 from the cello suites is a "sister" piece to Prelude 1 from the Well tempered Klavier.
Bourree 1 of cello Suite 3 is extremely similar to the Bourree of lute Suite 1.
Courante of Suite 5 is extremely similar to the Courante of lute Suite 1.
etc. etc.
Also Bach called the solo works for violin Sonatas and Partitas, whereas we have cello SUITES. Somehow he wanted to make a distinction in style!

It is mentioned by Jarvis, that he feels, the cello suites are inferior to Bach's superb style.
I disagree to the fullest - many refer to the cello suites as one of the most superb masterworks in history - but must admit, that sometimes a certain awkwardness in the bass melody lines seems to exist.
But the reason does not lie in Bach, but rather the cellists of the time.
Also we can observe a growing confidence in counterpoint writing by Bach, as if his confidence into the cellist's capability has grown during the writing of the Suites.
I will point out in the Sarabandes, that it seems, Bach didn't have a full confidence in the cellist's intonation.
He compromised, giving up the elegance of the melodic bass line in order to use as many open strings as possible, and also give up the clear line and take refuge to notes easier accessable one octave higher or lower.
This seems sometimes awkward - unusual for Bach - and as said one can see that during the writing of the Suites his confidence growing possibly influenced by better cellists moving in from Berlin.

But here are the main reasons:

Anna Magdalena's copy was not the first copy. The earliest is by Bach's friend "Kellner" (see manuscripts).
It appears, that no one ever knew Anna Magdalena's copy until it was displayed in a museum.
She has certain differences in her text to all other manuscripts, like in the bowings at the beginning of Suite 1.
But no one copied from her.
It appears her version was unknown.
If she would have been the composer, the first source, other sources would exist similar to her.

If she would have been in fact the writer, it would mean, that absurdedly everyone would have ignored her, wrote something else, which is exactly what the person wrote, whose copy was earlier.
That the "original' wouldn't have had any influence.

Also, in her copies of the Sonatas and Partitas for violin she shows, that she doesn't understand string bowings.
She makes typical mistakes - if we play her copy through, we always end up in the wrong bow direction; she did not understand the necessity of observing strictly even and odd numbers of strokes in string bowing.
These mistakes are also in her copy of the cello suites.
Anna Magdalena was a singer and had obviously never played a string instrument.
The idea that she could have written Suites for a string instrument, which are playable and don't offend the technique of a string player is absurd.
A person not playing a string instrument would certainly have written passages impossible to play.
It is absurd to assume that all copiers knew what she meant though she didn't know herself and never wrote it - all copiers would have needed to agree, what she would have meant if she would have known!

But It is rather very plausible, that she made a copy with mistakes, which was shelved, and the other copies were made from an original with correct bowings.
After the original was lost, several versions coexisted, as no one knew now what was right or wrong.
But no one referred to her manuscript, the first print to refer to the Bb in bar 26 of Prelude 1 as in her copy appeared in 1898, 170 years after her manuscript was written.
The first one to refer to her bowings (but ignoring them) was Alexanian in 1929, 200 years after she had written her manuscript.
No one before seemed to mind, seemed to care - and today no one plays it, because not only it feels awkward, also she is alone with her bowings against the other prints and manuscripts.
(see: THE EDITIONS OF THE 6 CELLO SUITES IN HISTORICAL ORDER (85 Editions) - see right column or click here)

Another reason against her being the composer is:
As a person, who didn't understand strings, didn't understand the bowing, she would not have been able to write works, which are playable with fluency.
As a singer she would have much more likely have been inclined to compose a work for soprano and harpsichord, which she understood or a choral work, but never a work for strings.
I feel also, that the whole idea, that a singer sits down and writes a great work for cello, demonstrates rather more than anything else an unfamiliarity with the process of composing.
Every composer without exception started off wrirting for their own instrument or an instruments they intimately knew.
The creative impulse is driven by the idea what one could do, a security, how it would sound and how it is done.
To write a first composition for an unfamiliar instrumentwould require even for the greatest composer collaboration with a competent soloist of this instrument, proof reading and co editing, and would probably still be awkward.. Writing for an alien instrument requires a high degree of competence and experience form the composer.
It would also not be normal to want to do so; e.g. Bach never wrote an opera as he didn't have actors and the appropriate orchestra to put any opera composition into practice.

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MANUSCRIPT "C" (see also right column)

Written between 1750 - 1800, but assumed to be older than manuscript "D".
The first writer of the manuscript (start to Bourree of Suite 3) is very logical, the text looks like written by a cellist, who has played the work or copied very well from a manuscript of a cellist.
The second copier is not that accurate, the music looks like written in a rush. We find often overlapping slurs etc.
The value of this manuscript (and "D") lies in the fact that it includes ideas of ornaments, which only a player of the Suites could have added.
Like manuscript "D" it was written during a time period, where performers started to play only the ornaments, which were written down.
This required from the cellists, who knew what was common to play, to write these ideas in. Manuscript "C" and "D" are from this point of view very important sources.
Nevertheless the copy was done for a collector, and was not the base of any early print.


Bourree 1 of Suite 3 by manuscript "C - 1 & 2".
Copier "C1" is the writer from the start of Suite 1 to the penciled line, a clear writer.
The manuscript looks to me as written by a knowing person, a cellist, who played the works and included ornaments.
Had he been asked to copy his own manuscript for this collection, got other work and someone else was paid to finish the job?
Copier "C2" wrote from the double pencilled line to the end of Suite 6. His writing is rushed, bowings are often out by 1/8.
To me it looks very much, that the writer was paid a set fee to do the job, so he did it fast.
Not unlikely he was keen to have more work - like copying on order the 6 Suites from the manuscript of C1 for more customers.
Was he maybe the originator of hundreds of years of mistakes caused by his rushing (?), like the slur shift in Gigue 1- prominent in all early prints and in no manuscript - which looks very typical for his writing.

 

MANUSCRIPT "D" (see also right column)

Written c 1775 - 1800.
Similar to manuscript "C", written for a collector of Bach's music.
As manuscript "C" this manuscripts was not used as a base for early prints.
However, there are similarities to the first print of Cotelle, more than in the other manuscripts.
For example it is the only edition, which suggests to slur in the first 4 bars of Prelude G major 4/16, as we see it in Cotelle.
The copier was less tidy than "C" and less consistent.
The ornaments in both manuscripts are virtually identical.

 

LOST Manuscripts

The first prints of Dotzauer and the Cotelle edition share interesting parallels in certain inaccuracies, e.g. the Bb in bar 26 of Prelude 1 or the syncopation in bar 1 of the Gigue of Suite 1.
This common mistakes hint a common source of a manuscript they both had copies from - an enthusiast, who made multiple copies, and copies were made from these.
Both editions are not following closely any of the 4 early manuscripts known today.

We must assume, that the circulating copies at the time of the early prints have not survived and that the existing manuscripts have not been seen or consulted for the early prints.
I will prove this fact in the "landmark comparison."


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PRINTS

Prints are meant to be read by the unknown person. All information needs to be included in the print.
But there seems to be a certain regular mishap in first prints: They are often printed in a rush to get the publication out.
If you ever published something or know someone who has, they will tell you of the magic moment of opening the brand new print and your eye is somehow instantly attracted to a misprint!
Although first editions are often more valuable, second editions have less mistakes.

As mentioned in the right column, the earliest print by Cotelle is impossible to play through without a correcting pencil in the hand: the bow ends up always in the wrong direction.
For me it looks as if the publisher was (quite naturally) no string player, and the editing cellist had for some reason not done the proof reading.
Supposed the well known cellist by the name of M. Norblin prepared the edition (the cellist & composer Jacques Offenbach chose him in his final years of studying).
I can't imagine he would have certain passages let go through without saying: No, that's wrong.
(Maybe or very likely Norblin picked up a copy from Dotzauer - it has been recorded that he travelled especially to Leipzig to obtain a copy; or he quickly wrote a copy himself.
Norblin probably knew, that Dotzauer was about to publish his edition and wanted to be first, and therefore the Cotelle - Norblin edition was terribly rushed).
A good example for lack of proof reading is the misreading based on a right shift in the Menuet of Suite 1 (see below)


First print by Cotelle misinterpreting the handwriting showing a right shift in the bowings - here bar 5 - 9: bar 5 of the Menuet I has an incorrect bowing, misread because of the right shift and in bar 9 - same figure - the correct bowing.

The title "Loure" in Cotelle's print for the "Bourree's

The title "Loure" for the Bourree's might in my opinion also be based on bad handwriting:
Bourree was frequently written without double "r" and sometimes also only with one "e" (as in 3 readings of 4 in manuscript "D").
If the "B" was written in a rush - the editor had problems with the handwriting presented, from "Boure" from "Loure" is not far fetched.
A Loure is such a different kind of dance (a slow dance in 6), it doesn't make sense.
Again: Norblin would have picked the mistake - and probably wished he never agreed to the publication without having seen it!

Virtually at the same time the first Dotzauer edition appeared.
Dotzauer obviously had more input in his edition. There are very few mistakes and are corrected in the later edition.
The bowings are clear and logical, even if we don't agree. His edition was so convincing it had reprints for at least 130 years.
Cotelle's edition did not have a second print run.
Cotelle's edition became romanticized, because Pablo Casals discovered the Suites through this edition, bought second hand in an antique shop.
This story received new fuel through Eric Siblin's book on the Cello Suites.
Strangely no one mentions that Casals did not use Cotelle's edition later. His performances rely on Dotzauer, Gruetzmacher, Doerffel and Hausmann.
He must have found as well, that Cotelle's edition was poor.

I compiled in the right column all editions I could get information on in historical order. 85 are listed here and there exist maybe a few more.
There are links to historical editions available on line - today public domain.


Groups of Print Editions

There are several "groups" of print editions.
To the first group belong the early editions like Dotzauer, concerned with a balance of firstly faithfulness to the original if known to them or surviving manuscripts and secondly practicality, that bowings are consistent so one can play through the Suites in an enjoyable fluent way.
These editions include fingerings and often tempo recommendations as well as some ornaments and sometimes dynamics.
Until today most editions are concerned with the balance of faithfulness and practicality.

The next group is more concerned with faithfulness than practicality.
In these editions we find e.g. inconsistent bowings, because they would not dare to write bowings, which are not found in any manuscript.
Doerffel was the first of these editions. He tries to discover a system and applies the system he believes Bach's original might have shown, combined with literal faithfulness.
Gruemmer follows strictly Anna Magdalena.
Some editions - like Wenzinger - use for the faithful bowings solid slurs, for recommendations according to parallel logic or sheer practicality dotted slurs.
Similar are editions, which are keen to discover the systematic thinking. Their bowings follow this consistency.

A small group of edition leave it up to the reader / player to write bowings in according their own taste and decisions. The first of these editions is Vandersall.
The new Baerenreiter edition fits also in this group: It delivers the early manuscripts and offers the music ready for the player to write their own conclusions in.

Another group starting with Becker is just concerned with the effectiveness in performance. Faithfulness plays a secondary role, if any at all.
Becker was the first to recreate all bowings following Gruetzmacher, who paved the way not daring yet to do away completely with original bowings.
Interestingly enough Becker's edition, with no attempt to be faithful or capture the character of the dances, became the most popular way of playing the Bach Suites.
This is surprising as Becker doesn't even attempt to get the style right; he just wants effect.
E.g. Starker followed his way with different own ideas.

A last category I call the "intellectual approach". It was felt by some teachers, that the bare notes and bowings don't explain the complexity of the composition sufficiently.
They included added notations, staves, overlapping lines, arrows and comments to show how they imagine Bach might have thought.

The earliest is by Diran Alexanian - difficult to read, sometimes virtually impossible to find one's way through.
Alexanian is interesting in the point, that the edition looks very 'intellectual', complicated.
It is like an interpretation of poetry by someone who uses a complicated language and rare words.
However, there is no clarity in structure, no consideration of natural or Baroque bowing (not even Anna Magdalena's, whose manuscript he includes);
it looks like made difficult without answering the question why.
Alexanian goes so far to ignore original notation; he puts his personal version forward, unfortunately unexplained.
On a positive side, he is the first to include the manuscript of Anna Magdalena for reference in his edition.

Following the same idea is Enrico Mainardi, who writes the whole Suites in two systems, explaining the counterpoint in the lower system by using up and down stems.
He makes the reader aware of the parts, it is easy to read, although sometimes he pulls melodies apart just to make use of his double stems.
Mainardi like his teacher Backer does not care much about the original, as if an intellectual pull apart is superior to going through the original slurs and phrases.
On the positive side (it was my first edition), he makes the less musically trained player aware of the possible complexity, the polyphony, behind the plain notes.
I asked for permission to offer p1 of the edition as an example.
Unfortunately the new owner of this Schott edition, Hal Leonard, wanted to charge me more than $100 for showing this one page edited 1941!

The third edition is by Paul Tortellier. We find overlapping slurs and arrows from different sides in an attempt to visualize the complexity of polyphony.
I listened to his recording with his copy in my hand and gave the copy away shortly later, as his own playing unfortunately neglected and contradicted his drawings.

Quite recently a Casals edition has been published by Madame Madeleine Foley.
I noted by surprise, that he used the same graphic methods as me to explain structure!
I developed this graphics for students with limited theoretical musical background: as simple and clear as possible.
In contrast to the 3 other editions reading his instructions can be followed easily:
the bass lines are circled note by note, so we can follow easily from one note to the next, even if they are bars apart.
Of all the intellectual editions, this edition gives us an easy insight; we can read through and follow the advice without stopping and studying the text.
Unfortunately some of the circles are missing and have not been added as a matter of completing, as if having taking the master too literally, when either he forgot a circle or thought one might now understand what he means.
(see above: the psychology of manuscripts; handwritten notes combined with talking are hardly ever complete, as talking may have completed the missing bits - or also, Casals might have wished to go on as the main idea seemed now clear).
Without doubt the Casals edition can add to the understanding of Bach's composition and the quality of the performance, even if we decide to play in a different way.
(I wished as an example to display page 1 of the edition, but unfortunately the publisher did not bother to respond to my request).

 

A "LANDMARKS" COMPARISON OF THE EARLY SOURCES

I will attempt to demonstrate a certain logical sequence of the early sources by comparing some "landmarks".
Many other 'landmarks' could have been picked.
My aim is not to pick the differences here, but to disprove the theory, that one copier called "G" was in between Anna Magdalena / Kellner and the subsequent sources of manuscript "C", "D" and Cotelle's first print.
This theory can't stand up by comparing just 2 landmarks.

The landmarks I choose are:

A - Bar 26 of Prelude, Suite 1
B - Bar 1 of Gigue, Suite 1

A - To Bar 26 of Prelude, Suite 1

I select firstly bar 26 of Prelude 1.
As shown, all 4 manuscripts show a B natural, all prints Bb for the 2nd 1/16 in the selected section.
We must assume, that the original by Bach showed B natural.
How would it happen, that all prints show Bb?

The first notion is: no early print copied from one of the 4 known manuscripts. They copied faithfully and consistently from other sources.
We have not to forget, that Bach's original was already known as to be lost. Early collectors as early as 1800 like Forkel, Poellschau and Doerffel had the common knowledge, that Bach's original of the cello suites was lost.
Anna Magdalena's copy seemed to be locked away - no printed version shows knowledge of it.

Cellists and printers were confronted with different versions of manuscripts; there was no logical reason to give more preference to one or another.
The decision over time was made according to how people got to know the Suites; the way it was most commonly played, seemed the most true one (see below the hand correction in Hausmann's edition).

I need to mention here the power of performances of exceptional musicians.
In our life we are a few times moved by performances of music. Virtually always this experience is linked to an exceptional performer.
Like every human, this performer relies on the resources available. If the notes or bowings are correct or not, once performed in a superb way, they gain power.
If a misprint happens to fall in the hands of an exceptional performer, the misprint turns into a desirable version: everyone wants to play like that.
There are so many ways to interpret and so many ways of music, if the performance is exceptional, this variety will be the desirable one until superseded by an as exceptional performance;
in our search for truth we rely instinctively rather in the conviction of the performance than in the correct notes.
The truth of music does not consist in written notes, but in the sound they would produce. The structure in the music is only valuable, when we can hear it.
The real truth lies in the performance or in the life reproduction of any player.
Therefore a change of notes in a major work, which has been performed hundreds of times will only convince, once the version with the change has been performed convincingly.

The most likely train of thought seems for me, that an enthusiastic performer did multiple copies (perhaps already from a copy), likely a well known teacher with many students;
this version was then spread among growing professionals in the area of origin, Leipzig.
All printed versions stem form copies.

That means, all prints stem from manuscripts, which have not survived.
These unknown manuscripts were more popular than our 4 known ones.
More so, none of the prints is a copy of the 4 manuscripts.
Changes happened on the way by copiers unknown.

As to our bar 26: We cannot assume, that a note was altered by purpose.
We can see though in the way of the bowings are drawn, that many copiers followed the order: firslyt the notes were written, secondly the additions like accidentals and slurs.
The writers went back with the hand to write any additions to the heads and stems.
Some of the copiers wrote obviously in a rush (see the 2nd writer of manuscript "C" in Bourree 2 of Suite 3). Slurs shifted to one note too far left or right, accidentals were quickly written in.
In our case here the b was placed in front of the correct note in the correct bar, but at the wrong place - a likely place for a mistake ( I assume exactly the same happened with the bowings in the Gigue of Suite 1 as shown below).


All 4 manuscripts ("D", c 1775-1800):    - All prints before 1898 (here Dotzauer 1890):       Hausmann 1898:   
As we can see in the Hausmann copy as shown in Petrucci, one of the owners of the copy corrected this first version of the B natural back to Bb, as if it was a mistake!
For all what the owner knew, all known prints differed, and the manuscripts were unknown.
(Pablo Casals played B natural, and so does Tortellier, who frequently played with Casals together; Casals student Alexanian was the first to publish Anna Magdalena's manuscript in print. We don't know, what Casals played before, as his surviving recordings are from a later date. Most performers to today including Rostropovich, YoYo Ma, Maisky play still Bb).

B - Bar 1 of Gigue, Suite 1

The same as in bar 26 of Prelude 1, all 4 manuscript give us the same reading in bar 1 of the Gigue: 1 single 1/8 followed by a slur of 2 (this pattern twice).
This must be the original version.


(left) all manuscripts show this bowing (here manuscript "D").
(right) all early prints show this bowing including Dotzauer (here "Cotelle")
As to the possible confusion see below the Menuet of Suite 1.

We can't assume, that a cellist purposefully invented this very unusual syncopated bowing against Bach's original ideas.
The most like scenario is again, that a casually written copy showed a slur shift to the right.
The slur meant to be for the 2nd and 3rd 1/8 shifted to one 1/8 to the right, creating the syncopated rhythm.
This copy - I think must - became the master copy for many and it looks like it didn't meet any resistance but rather a liking.
We need to remember, that having knowingly no original to fall back on, all copies gained equal rights. The most liked one won.
Also as mentioned above, once the misprint - or miswriting - has been performed by an exceptional musician, it turned into the desirable version, even if it was factually wrong.
The first print to go back to the original version I found is the Bach Gesellschaft editor Doerffel in 1879 (private owner of the original of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas and a collector of Bach manuscripts).


First print by Cotelle, Menuet 1 of suite 1, bar 5 - 9., misinterpreting the handwriting with the right shift:
please compare here bar 5 and 9 of Menuet I of Suite 1. In bar 5 the misreading, and in bar 9 the bowing meant to be.
From a musical point of phrasing, both bars should have the same bowing, independent if we share the idea of this bowing.

 

A POSSIBLE (DIFFERENT) GENESIS OF THE SUITES AND THE MANUSCRIPTS

(It is likely that before 1720 J.S Bach might have improvised sometimes on the cello, and gradually Prelude 1 took shape (see more about this idea in: Prelude 1).
The arrival of excellent string players including cellists sparked off the idea to write a larger work for cello or cello solo.
Bach is believed to have started to write the cello Suites around 1720.
At this stage Bach was not focused on choral work, but had an orchestra at his disposal including the new instrumentalist due to them having to have left Berlin, because the funds for the orchestra were used for military.
It was a perfect time to write instrumental challenging works with the perspective that they were played, perhaps even with certain players in mind.
The violin Sonatas and Partitas followed or were written simultaniously,
Already at an early stage, copies were made of the Suites, as this was the custom of the time. Not many composition made it to be printed.

Kellner's manuscript from c 1726 was part of a large collection including the cello and also violin solo works (he played organ, flute and lute), not used by cellists, perhaps just out of interest in his friends compositions. Kellner must have admired his friends talented and wanted to make sure, the compositions survived. The cello suites are on pages 249 to 275.
In this manuscript Suite No 5 is written for standard tuning, but the Sarabande is cut short and the Gigue omitted.

Between 1727 - 1731 Bach transcribed the cello suite No 5 for lute (Lute Suite No 3), dedicated to Monsieur Schouster. This is the only surviving Bach original of any "cello" suite.
(It is not impossible that the original before the transcription for lute was for standard tuning.
(It came into my mind, that it would not be an impossibility, that the scordatura was maybe introduced in order to hide the use of the B-A-C-H theme; see also the reference to the B-A-C-H theme in the analysis of Suite No 5).
Anna Magdalena copied the Suites in a set including the Violin Sonatas and Partitas c 1730 with noticeable changes of bowings / phrasing in many parts.
Either Bach had by this time written a second version or he supervised Anna Magdalena's copy in some parts, changing bowing and phrasing.
Simultaneously many cellists copied the Suites.

Very likely different "schools" of playing emerged. Strong musical personalities of teachers created different ways of playing the Suites, complimenting and changing the bowings, writing ornaments and also some dynamics in.
These different "schools" of playing were copied by hand by students and their students.
(This is a tradition to today: Independent of the copy I owned, I had to copy my teachers bowings and fingerings, which were Janos Starker's from the time period my teacher had been studying with him. All my study mates had to copy these markings from the "grand teacher". This is a very common tradition in the music world over centuries.)

1750 - 1800 Manuscript "C" and "D" copied for collectors of Bach's work.
These copies also had never been used to play from; no essential markings for cellists like fingerings and complimenting or changing bowings, no up or down bow marks, just no sign of use can be found.
The originals went the path of inheritance, landing in obscure hands, like the violin Sonatas and Partitas, and were at a quite early stage already regarded as lost.
The first prints emerged c 1824 - 1826.

The story goes that the French cellist M. Norblin travelled to Leipzig to get hold of a copy (or copied himself) of the Suites he had heard of.
At this stage Dotzauer had already emerged as a main figure in the cello teaching world (and is until today) and was in the process of preparing a first printed edition of the Suites.
Being in Leipzig he must have had access to virtually all varieties of copies available and studied them.
Norblin travelled back to France and pushed for an earlier edition. It looks like he didn't have even time to proof read the edition, as if he handed the manuscript and had the impression, that a print from his manuscript can't be too wrong and he gave the go ahead without reading through.
A very short time later Dotzauer's first edition appears.
Very likely the appearance of an easy to read edition with clear bowings and fingerings resulted in throwing out the worn out handwritten copies with markings and cross outs everywhere, or at least it was done by the next generation, because they were not used anymore.
For quite some time different copies still survived, or at least different opinions.

From 1824 - 1900 16 editions appeared worldwide, 12 of them in Leipzig, by Dotzauer, Doerffel, Schulz, Hausmann, Schroeder, Gruetzmacher and Klengel.
in my opinion this reflects the multitude of manuscripts and opinions being around Leipzig for more than 150 years.
Once all these opinions had appeared in print, the last hand written manuscripts used by cellists must have been seen as finally irrelevant and were thrown away.
The Suites in manuscript survived only in large collections by collectors out of fancy, which were not thrown away, because the books were large (some more than 400 pages) and clean.


CONCLUSION

We are used to focus our thinking on the one big secret: what would the original of Bach have looked like?
The traditional answer is to focus on the surviving manuscripts in time closest to the creation of the Suites.
But is this necessary the best and only answer?
I want to go through some interesting and unexpected thoughts, which might be surprising:
Firstly it is believed and likely that there are several "Bach originals", a first draft, "working copy", a later copy and perhaps an updated, changed copy.
Already there we don't have the truth, but several truths, and need to make similar decisions as with our 4 manuscripts.
As to the manuscript and prints I came to the following and probably very surprising conclusion:
Contrary to common believe I think no one ever consulted the known 4 manuscripts until the 20th century.
The first two manuscripts by Kellner and Anna Magdalena are not written by a string player.
Although they copy the notes faithfully - Anna magdalena nearly faultless, Kellner with a few more mistakes-l - they both fail to understand the nature of bowings for strings.
This is out of ignorance of string playing but also maybe carelessness because no one ever played from them and there may have been no likelyhood that a cellist would use these copies.
I believe some mistakes would have been corrected by the first person who read from them (like the missing ledger line in Menuet I, Suite 1 by Anna Magdalena).
So unfortunately we must stamp them as reliable sources regarding the notes, but unreliable regarding the bowings, stemming from the original - or in fact 2 different drafts.

The next two manuscripts "C" and "D" again have very likely never been read; there are no markings in it, they are part of large collections, which don't fit on a music stand.
They seem to be written by understanding string players, but the writers seem to have been hired to write the compositions down, a paid job.
Very likely "C" and "D" are copies from manuscripts by contemporary cellists. The first copier of "C" is quite accurate.
It is certainly the edition with the least mistakes in notes and bowings. But as said, it is likely a copy from another cellist's copy, a practicing Suite player, therefore with added ornaments.
These lost copies would have been very interesting, as they would have shown more effort put into flawlessness; they were read from on a daily basis and gone over again and again.
Collections including the cello suites manuscripts "C" and "D" were then filed.
There are no signs they were used as a basis for the early prints - unlike the valuable lost manuscripts, which were used until they fell apart.
All early prints are quite different from all manuscripts.
This even applies to Anna Magdalena's copy; no one ever refers to e.g. her bowings in Prelude 1, until her manuscript itself had been consulted in the 20th century.

The first serious prints (discounting the lack of proof read print by Cotelle) appeared in Leipzig.
They show consistency in bowings and also a certain consistency in the notes different than the 4 early manuscripts: like the Bb in bar 26.
Despite this probably being an early mistake of copying, it shows many copies were around.
It shows also these copies had nothing to do with the 4 manuscripts, they had not been consulted.
If we are today interested in accurate bowings, probably the early prints show more accuracy.
The idea and the courage to change bowings appeared very likely only later.
That would mean, the early print of Dotzauer probably shows more originality of Bach than all 4 early manuscripts - either string playing ignorant or relatively uninvolved.
Unfortunately the earliest print of Dotzauer is not available, not even on Wikipedia (page 1 is displayed in the right column, courtesy of the original publisher, Breitkopf, today the oldest existing publishing house).
His later editions moved already away from the faithfulness of the early edition.
It would enhance our understanding of the cello Suites, if his first print would be made available - mistakes are few and easy to identify according to page 1.

DONATION: A contribution to this project would be appreciated.


For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

INTERPRETING - A general and practical comment

Interpreting means basically explaining to a listener the structure, elements and beauty of a work without using words.
The usual setting is, that the interpreter knows the work well and the listener doesn't.
The act of performing is an act of demonstrating the ingredients we have found, combine them into an experience of completeness, as clear as we can - without using words, just by playing.
Works, which have survived over centuries are the ones, where this experience of demonstrating and being shown is a very special one, an experience of beauty, of intellectual and emotional involvement, which can greatly enhance the quality of our whole life.
For many people, for whom music is important, this experience of musical and structural beauty makes more difference to their life than money & holidays and is as important as food & shelter.
We can't undervalue the importance of interpreting to the highest standard possible and reaching the audience.

A little experience of mine:

After a performance - or even practice - when I played very well I am afterwards left in some corners with a feeling of what I call: the "little unhappiness".
"It was so good - even if there was there this corner, where I was not fully happy; but it is ok (?)".
It is so important to give in to this "little unhappiness", consider it and think about why we feel like this, find out the cause.

Often it is just a bit too soft, too loud, too rushed, the fingering works, but not well, the bow doesn't feel 100% etc.
These are just the corners, which when resolved make the music complete, without edges, can make us really fulfilled.

And here is a second observation:

In my teaching I come often across the statement: Yes I can hear, that would sound better, but I am used to that (old way of fingering and bowing) - and this statement can come from a young student.
This is the typical statement of a student, who will not excel.
The willingness to change and the ability to give up the old way, once we are convinced there is a better way, is one of THE main ingredients to develop into an good performer.
I have noticed, that some top performers have done several Bach editions, which are so different, as if they are different people.
We may have different opinions as to which one is our favourite performance of the Bach Suites.
But the willingness and ability to change ways was essential for any of the really good performances.

PLAYING BY MEMORY

Bach is performed by all serious interpreters by memory, Beethoven not. Why?
To play Beethoven by memory, one should have also the piano part in memory.
This would be a bit too much especially if we as cellists are often bad pianists.
Reading the music on stage I compare often like watching a movie with the actors running around with a script in their hand. Of course it sounds absurd.
But can musicians also not express their "movements" only, when they have their music in their head instead their head in the music?
To play a Beethoven Sonata by memory in it's full content would be like learning a whole movie including the parts of all actors by memory!
For the solo Suites this is different: There is only one actor - it is a solo show.

The exciting part of playing by memory is knowing exactly at which part of the composition we are at any time.
We know where we coming from and where we are going to; where the beautiful flowers, trees and lookouts are or just the road crossings.
A forte is not written in, it emerges out of the context; we are living the path.
When we read, we look just at the note we play now and a bit ahead - our inner eye does not look two lines ahead, because our outer eye is busy.
Many of you will have experienced, that when we listen to music at night and switch the light off, it appears suddenly to be clearer and louder.
The engagement of our eyes takes the focus away from our ears.

As a teacher I am always stunned about the difference in intonation, when I ask a student to play a piece by memory.
It is as if we listen only half, when we are busy reading.
Technically and musically we prepare better when we don't read.
We understand better and we express stronger.

WRITTEN DYNAMICS

Very rarely I write specific dynamics in.
A performance, if private or public, depends very much on the mood of the day, the nature of the performance space and the audience.
This is particularly true for the Preludes, the more atmospheric introductory movements.
The dance movements should vary anyway in the repeats.

Definite dynamics lead to play just what is written without understanding and having a sensitivity to the situation.
I find, too many "readers" (particularly players, who don't play by memory) find in written dynamics a way to play a piece like a study, with little feeling and little understanding.
I try with my articles and graphps as much as I can to get away from just copying what is written, but understanding and experiencing - living - the music every time anew we play it.
Also, the historically later developed way of writing dynamics in relies on, that all parts have for a worthwhile period the same dynamic.
In Baroque interpreation the dynamic line is much more complex as to simply write an overall average dynamic in (which might be a reason that composers didn't become convinced it might be advisable to write "a dynamic" in).
A good interpreation distinguishes the different dynamics of beat 1 and 2, of bass and top melody, of so many factors, that writing it in is either too complicated or fails the purpose -
and as mentioned, in repeats we should vary, on different days and in locations we should play differently - intergrated with time and space.

"DYNAMIC MAPPING"

I remember being stunned, that Bach didn't write the dynamics in himself.
As a learner of course I followed the editor's suggestions, not knowing, there was little authority.
When I studied tertiary, I found, many students had different editions with totally different dynamics.
Independent of our editions, the local teachers at the "Musikhochschule" (state conservatorium) over wrote everything, which meant only his teachers opinion counted and was beyond discussion.
I liked some new ideas, I certainly disliked others, found them not fitting.
How could anyone argue the point?

What shall we do with a piece of music , where no dynamics are written in?
Did performers play everything evenly, about mezzoforte? Surely not.
How should we play dynamics in style?

Apart from these question from the perspective of the player, there is another perspective from the composer:
How could a composer convey the message of his intended dynamics, when he didn't write them in?
Composers wrote within a tradition, which was known, which is for example the nature of the different dances.
All these dances were known and the performer had to know the characteristics of the dance: where are the strong beats, where the weak ones.
Secondly he wrote in the tradition of a melodic line; certain guidelines within a Baroque composition were known, and most people would feel it.
He could include "signs", which would be understood by performers, who could read the details between the lines.
As dynamics were not written in, a good performer had a certain knowledge of composition and would notice these signs and follow them.
Of course not when sight reading, but by understanding the structural hints.

We must visualize a completely different starting point of playing a composition:
In olden times the freedom of the player extended permanently over all dynamics between pp and ff.
That state of emotion opened up the senses to all information from within the composition.
The skill of listening for clues on dynamics was highly developed.
This freedom could also be very exuberant , taking the opportunity of a possible expression, if the player was able to.

This is opposite to today:
if we give a sheet of music without dynamics written in to a student, the cautious interpretation of our dynamically spoon-fed generation will not allow anything far from mf,
because no license for an extreme emotion has been released by finding it written in!
A long training of obliging has led us to not allow one's own sense of dynamics. Only the written permission allows the freedom(?) to any extreme dynamic.

Back to the olden times: anything was allowed unless it contradicted the message conveyed in the tradition of what I call "dynamic mapping" within the composition.

To write dynamics in started just around the times of Bach. Very rarely he wrote his instructions in:
in the 6 cello suites he marked only a few sections with an echo effect: in the Bourree 1 of Suite 4 and in the Prelude of Suite 6.
All other 40 movements are without any instructions.

During the long history of music we come across two major components of dynamic structure or guide lines: melody and rhythm.
We can't due duty to the Suites and playing them in style without looking at these two fields of influence on the dynamics.
Usually we actually apply anyway a quite fitting feeling to the music, we "go with it", meaning we respond to the ups and downs of the melody naturally and we feel the rhythm, which gives us the correct accents on the beats.

Melody and rhythm provide us with a diagram like a North-South and East-West co-ordinate.
They work always together, sometimes seem to contradict, are in ways independent.
In sound they are one, like the location on map, which can be found by the 2 coordinates, but it is only one location.

I decided therefore to call the outline for dynamics for the time period before dynamics were written in: "dynamic mapping".
"Dynamic mapping" is a kind of a Da Vinci Code for decoding a composition and distilling out of it the dynamic implications.

We will find two layers of this "dynamic map", a small scale one, based on the rhythm and character of the dance, and a more individual one, which is different in every piece and applies to larger structures.
I will first investigate the "Melodic Map", the individual map, which is the larger structure, the "Macro-Map".
It can spread over many bars, several lines. It spreads over the smaller structure, the rhythmical map, but does not eliminate its function.
The two layers, melody and rhythm work together.
The rhythmical map, the "Micro-Dynamic-Map", which is often only a map for one bar - and each bar has this pattern - is always present, independent of the larger structure.
I will discuss the rhythmical map, the "Micro-Dynamic-Map secondly.

THE IMPLIED DYNAMICS IN THE MELODIC LINE

The melodic line leads us back in its purest form in the human voice.
We find two main elements contributing to dynamics:

On one hand we find a natural sense to express the melody as we feel it.
One of the best ways to access our own way to express music on an instrument is to sing it.
Instead of words we use syllabus like daadaa, tum tum, whatever comes into our mind naturally.
The next step is to watch and keep in mind our natural articulation.
The last and very important step is to transfer the syllabus to our instrument.
Often without intending to do so, we might play daa instead of tum, just because of the place where the bow is at the time or the amount of bow we have left over.
We need to watch and listen very well, if the two parts are identical: our singing and our realization in sound on the instrument.

I can's emphasize enough, how inportant this first step is: to realise what we hum and to realise what we play.
Often our own play is an illusion in our head: we mean to play mf and p, but if we would record it, it would sound the same.
not only that, unintentionally dynamics appear unwanted and are dependent on (a lack of) technique:
We wish to play 2 or 3 notes short, but the last one is longer, just because we go back with bow;
or we have a short soft note, and it sounds long and strong, again because the bow has to go to some spot or the other.

Secondly there exist a tradition in what to do, like a (once) common knowledge taught over generations from master to disciple.
I want to look into a few traditions, which have survived to today.

We probably have all heard radio commentators for the "races". They start with a lower voice and gradually rise higher to the climax.
In this particular case I am always stunned by the lack of (musical) flow in the voice.
But even the musically untrained listener gets the message: the gradual rise, the crescendo of the voice expresses coming to the climax.
A normal human voice exposes an up and down flow, like a bit of music, when we speak a sentence and lower the voice at the end of it.
In speech or music we call this: phrasing, literally breathing, the musical shape of a voice or melody within the length of a breath.

The ancient poet Homer is reported to have sung his poems using a "key" note and dependent of the verse going up and down, fitting with the content of the verse.
We find today still the same ancient way of singing in the Gregorian chant.
These ancient songs have their origin in an unbroken line from Eastern music, Hebrew, Egypt (coptic) and Bulgarian music, up to two thousand years and more old.
It is an ancient way of meditative singing, which is characterized by, that the singers are standing still, not walking and not dancing.
By standing still, the rhythmical element is virtually taken out in order to symbolize stillness - being here and there - a spiritual statement.
In many cultures the ritual singing is the purest expression of melody.

(This is a very interesting point.
All cultures except our Western one includes this meditative element in music, which has no beat. Our Christian ritual music is imported from not European sources,
In the more than thousand years of Christian control, all pagan and local music reminding of "being there" - meaning belonging to local spirituality - has been prosecuted and eliminated, reportedly up into the 18th century.
I think, that therefore - in difference to let's say Indian music - the Western world is always in search for some "new way" or found "old way" as if we don't have a root; we lost it; we are confused even about what is beautiful and what not. Our own musical culture and tradition has been erased and we never stop getting exited about finding the new old root
)

We find in the dynamics of the Gregorian chant, 1000 and more years old, the following elements:
- In the wider structure, higher parts are louder, lower parts are softer.
- The dynamics go with the pitch of the melodic line up and down.
- Crescendos are most developed, when pin pointing important higher and longer notes or when syllabus are rising scale like or in at least one direction.

However, despite that the chant does not have a defined beat, we find, that
- emphasized notes are often followed by softer ones, like a strong beat followed by a weak note.
- At these places the second note is softer, independent if it is higher or lower as the preceding stronger one.
- Thirdly we find, that an end note is somewhat just another case of the latter observation; they are not loud, always softened, taken back.



An example of a Gregorian Chant, more than 1000 years old. Dynamic notation didn't exist.
The lack of a stronger rhythmical element can be noticed.
The melody gets stronger, when the voice ascends, weaker, when the voice descends. End notes are softer.

We find in many Bach print editions end notes marked with a ff.
I believe, this is a very Romantic instruction, where dynamics were seen as an effect to get more applause from the audience, and not for the beauty of architecture.
The Bach Suites were written as a chamber music piece.
We don't even know, if they had been performed publicly during Bach times, and the idea, that the last chord was used to make a large crowd cheer, was surely not in Bach's original mind.

I might mention also, that for many instruments - like the recorder - the climax is naturally the highest note, as it needs more pressure or air to produce.
This goes hand in hand with the rising of a voice - as in a conversation - indicating coming to something important - opposite to we don't raise our voice to mention unimportant side issues.
That does not exclude, that sometimes - as an exception - we might whisper a special secret, which is important and is felt by the listener like a climax - or anti-climax.

It is for a string player particularly interesting, because the nature of a bow - instead of a voice - confronts us with certain difficulties and limitations.
If we don't listen very carefully, we will very likely offend our own natural sense of melody.
e.g. one of the most common unnoticed faults is to rush back to the nut and by doing so the preceding note turns out loud without any musical reason -
or we imagine to play a crescendo, but because it is hard to do in down bow in a long slur, we just don't do it -
there are many, many occasions, where technique dictates us against our own musical feeling.
This is not because we have a bad technique, it is because we don't use technique musically, we limit our expression by being technically uninventive and by not listening to our own sound.
Especially when we read music we often imagine we would do what is written, but in reality we play something different.

"HIDDEN SCALES" / THE MACRO-DYNAMIC GUIDE

One of the main techniques Bach employed to express dynamics are "hidden scales".
In the Baroque times a music piece was a piece of architecture.
A crescendo was not an effect, which had to be written in, because the composition did give away signs, that it was implicated.
It is the opposite to when we play in a Classical piece a series of the same 1/8 for 4 bars, nothing gives away a direction.
With the composers dynamic direction written underneath, crescendo or diminuendo, the chords and chord changes can sound very effective.

The Baroque performer knew how to read between the lines, read the "map" of the dynamic instruction.
When understood, the result should sound natural;
or differently expressed, even when the performer didn't have a theoretical background, an emotionally involved player would very likely naturally play these dynamics.
Today we might find this idea a bit difficult, but at a time, where dynamics were not written in, the inner ear for what was happening was much more keen.
It is not so difficult as it might appear, especially when we consider, that it was normal to study the score and find the clues.
The important thing to observe is that there are short phrased dynamics and long phrased dynamics.
We need to look at both and they often intertwine.

The difference to Baroque and Romantic music, especially Suites - a series of dances - is, that the "micro-cosmos" of dynamics, the single bar or a series of two bars, was mainly determined by rhythm, rhythmical or "micro-dynamics".
Rhythm gave the dynamic structure of the movement within a bar.
But for the larger structure from bar to bar and sometimes over many bars, the "macro-cosmos", the "hidden scales" showed the direction, macro-dynamics.

The different clues lines for the dynamic map are:
Example 1 - A simple diminuendo and a crescendo in a "hidden scale".
Our example is bar 13 - 15 from Courante 1 (manuscript "C").



The first diminuendo is a short phrased descending scale (bar 13).
The following crescendo can be seen in the rising of the last 1/16 of each group of 4, it is a longer phrased crescendo, a "hidden rising scale".
This is here quite obvious since the groups of 3 notes in between don't change, are dynamically insignificant; they are just the means to spread the duration of the crescendo.
Of course we need to start soft in order to be able to realize the crescendo.

Example 2 - a rising scale in the bass line, always on the beat. The implied dynamic is a crescendo, meaning also to start bar 26 in pp.



This example is from the Prelude of Suite 2 (Werner Icking edition).
We can see the complete D - harmonic minor scale, stretching from G to g.
The in between short phrases describe always and up and following down movement, dynamically a swelling.
The underlying rising scale means, that the level of each swelling rises according to the position in the larger crescendo.
The Baroque "map" reader would have understood the need to do so.

Example 3 - a graphic crescendo: the rising top melody against a descending bass describes graphically a crescendo sign.
In many choral works from the Renaissance to the Baroque we find this dynamic expression.
Composers like Palestrina often started with a unison note, which broadened more and more into multiple parts, a dozen of voices creating an overwhelming effect.
The Sarabande of Suite 2 or the Prelude of Suite 6 are composed in that way.



This example is from Sarabande of Suite 4 (Cotelle). The melody lines in the top and bass from a graphic crescendo.
To start this bar we need to allow room for developing the crescendo and start soft.
The ornaments are noted in manuscripts "C" & "D" as well as in the prints of Cotelle (here) and Dotzauer.
(In my recording I play the ornaments in the repeat / see Sarabande 4 below)


STEP  DYNAMIC

In the Baroque time a crescendo was often occurring in steps, what we call "step dynamic".
That means the crescendo did not happen gradually, but in steps.
The existence of the step dynamic can be identified by one of our "hidden scales".

A crescendo in step dynamic includes, that within a step an independent dynamic phrasing happens, determined by the rhythmical dynamic of the dance.
On each step this independent rhythmical dynamic pattern occurs, like a swelling, but each step the dynamics within the bar are a step stronger.
The hidden scales can be on the first beat in the bass, but sometimes also in the melody line and even placed on off beats.
The melody can run even opposite to the direction of the step movement as in our 2nd example.

I chose here 2 examples, the first from Menuet 1 of Suite 1, in which the steps are on the first beat and in the bass, the second one from the Courante of Suite 4, where the "hidden scale" is located in the top melody.

Menuet 1 of Suite 1, bar 17 - 24

The "macro-dynamic" hidden scale is circled and compasses virtually the complete 2nd half of the second part of Menuet 1.
The (circled) scale rises from B, C#, D, to E and fulfills our need to be completed in the mention of bar 23.

This larger layer of "macro-dynamic" has little events happening in the "micro-dynamic", determined by the dynamic rules of the Menuet:
As in some faster movements the first and second unit are 2 bars.
The first beat of bar 1 nd 3 carry the big accent.
Within both units the first 2 beats are a chord, in which beat 2 disappears in the arpeggios and beat 3 has a minor accent.
The first beat of bar 2 and 4 (18 and 20) have a bit of an accent, but are a secondary bar unit compared to bar 17 and 19;
again the second beat is negligible, and beat 3 has some little accent.
The units of both bars are set in steps, the second step in the "macro-dynamic" determined by the "hidden scale" is one step stronger;
bar 21 and 22 are even in rhythmical dynamic, but again set in rising steps.
The faster rise of the hidden scale points to an acceleration of the crescendo.



Example 1, Menuet 1 bar 17- 24 (Werner Icking)
I circled the "hidden scale", which determines the dynamic "macro-cosmos",
whereas within a (bar or 2 bar) unit the characteristic rhythm rules of the dance determine the dynamic.

Courante of Suite 4, bar 13 -15

The step dynamic in our second example can be seen by, that within a bar a counterpoint scale runs down in each bar, contradicting the overall rise of the hidden scale.
This means, we step up, go a bit down, step up more, go a bit down etc, exactly like shown in the counterpoint patterns of the larger melody scale (first notes of the bar and repeated on the second beat) against the inner bar scale moving down.
Playing this inner architecture does not sound artificial, put on, it sounds like it has to be, as if the notes were set into life, naturally.



This example is from Courante of Suite 4, bar 13 - 16 (Cotelle).
- The architecture of the step dynamic: the top melody rises bar by bar, symbolized in the first note of each bar.
- The repetition of the first note on the second beat and following higher upbeat and stepping back in the top melody promote the step.
- The counter melody moves down within the individual bars indicating an overall crescendo in steps, with a slight diminuendo within each bar -
thus giving the player the message: here is a crescendo, but in steps, don't rise consistently like the "race reporter".

As Bach emphasizes above the step dynamic, he sometimes makes sure, we don't use it.
He sometimes more or less wrecks all chances to use it by alternating movements in different direction, but also including a distinct rise, but on an off beat.
A good example for this is in Allemande of Suite 4.
This means, the crescendo should occur gradually and not in steps.



Suite 4, Allemande bar 9 - 11 (Dotzauer 1890)
We can see the rising scale in the top note, 2nd/8 on beat 2 and 4.
Although the rising scale indicates a crescendo to a climax in bar 11.
The alternating direction in the movements of beat 1 and 3 make sure, that step dynamic can't be applied, but a gradual crescendo, which suits the gradual flow of this Allemande.

 

POLYPHONY, COUNTERPOINT / MELODY & ACCOMPANIMENT

A third factor has to be looked at: the relation between melody and accompaniment or between different melodies as it occurs in polyphony.

I will try to explain now, what our brain does when we listen.
By listening, our brain tries to organize the incoming information.
For example, when we hear a (melody) dada (loud) followed by dum, dum (soft), then dada (loud) and dum (soft), we naturally hear the loud dada's as the dominating melody and the softer diddle's as secondary.
Our brain does this judgment, independent if the notes are tonal or atonal.
Now, a bad interpreter misses to play the dada's loud and the diddle's soft, so the listener is left with many notes without structure, going nowhere.
The result is tiring, messy, nothing to follow up on.
A good interpreter not only considers the loud and the soft, but tries to create independent characters and would match the belonging parts in order to make it easier for the listener to follow.
The listener can now sit back and is guided like through a tour in a way, which is clear and colorful.

The distinction of different voices is basically the method for the interpretation of polyphony and counterpoint, the main architectural technique of Bach.
We give the dada some notes e.g. the beginning 2 G's of the Courante of Suite 1, followed by 2 lower notes (D&G, the diddle).
Bach did not write dynamics in, so as an interpreter we must first sit down and understand the structure of the pieces in order to work out dynamics and character:
where is the melody, where is the accompaniment - is the accompaniment sometimes so important, that we need to point it out?
If we don't sit down and understand the structure, the listener might yawn, perhaps somehow knowing, there is "something" in this piece, not discard it, because the music is inoffensive, but being not excited either.
A good interpreter will not only understand the structure, but try to pick distinctive characters for the parts, then link the threads, which are audible.
The listener will now hear: I know where this comes from, it follows on from before.



Courante of Suite 1 (manuscript C)
The first two G's are melody, followed by D-G accompaniment, like a left hand on the piano


REPETITIONS / ECHOES

All dance movements - that are all movements except the Preludes - have 2 parts and these parts are repeated.
The repeat gave the chance not only to make the new material - melodies and structure - more familiar and comprehensive to the listener, but also to vary it and interpret slightly different.
The most common practice was to play the repeat softer.
Even the repetition of single phrases was usually played softer, as indicated in the Bourree of Suite 4 and the Prelude of Suite 6.
The Echo or repeat of longer passages - first time strong, second time soft - is until today one of the most effective and easy to understand means of variations.
In the Sarabande the repeat was commonly used to include ornaments.

UNMARKED "Dynamic mapping" in music written from the Classical period to today !

There exist a common belief, that at least from the Romantic period onwards all important dynamic instructions had been noted.
This impression is actually not true.
It is surprising, that most of the implications of the "dynamic mapping" of the Baroque times and before still count today and are NOT written in.
Still today dynamics are written in, because they go against the natural phrasing or expectation - exactly why they started.

I will show here a few examples of "taken for granted" dynamics that the tradition of "dynamic mapping" is continuing and it is important to know the mapping guide lines.
The first example is from the cello part of Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik".


Mozart, cello part from "Eine Kleine Nachtmusik".
The dynamics written show just special requirements.
The ancient dynamic mapping would require also the following:
- Every first beat in the forte of bars 1 - 10 is stronger than the 3rd beats.
- Bar 2 ascends on the 3rd beat, compared to bar 4, which descends: Bar 3&4 are the answer to bar 1&2, the ending in bar 4 is softer than in bar 2.
- In bar 5-8 the first note has an accent, the third beats have a weaker accent.
- Bar 9 and 10 show new material on each beat. These need to be pointed out more than the middle notes in the bars before.
- The sf signs in bar 18 / 19 need to be written in, because simply otherwise we wouldn't do it. It is a special requirement .
Every chamber musician follows the dynamic mapping instructions today.
It belongs to the general interpretation.

Our second example is by one of the composers, who at the time was one of the most forward in writing explicit instructions into the score,
Eric Satie, Gymnopedie No 1.
As in Baroque times, the first beat needs to played stronger than the second.
If we fail to do so, and the second beat is stronger or equal, part of the effect of the piece is getting lost.


Satie, Gymnopedie 1.
The ancient dynamic mapping would require the following interpretation:
- The first beat is stronger than the second.
- In bar 2 (and 4) melody notes descent, which requires to play these bars weaker, softer.
This shows us also, that we have here 2 bars units, of which the first bar is stronger than the second, if not indicated otherwise.
Without doubt this would be the musical interpretation rather than playing everything evenly like a computer program.

 



The old rules of "dynamic mapping" continue to today.
Written in were first dynamics at certain points, where the composer just wanted to make sure, a certain effect was not missed, like an echo or a piano.
More dynamic signs were added, particularly, where the idea of the composer contradicted the old system of dynamic mapping:
What was obviouos from the content was still not written in.
This became more important, since the more linear classical compositions didn't give away any clues of development. Rather the clue was the dynamic instruction itself.
What used to be expressed in the melodic line of polyphony was no expressed in a written crescendo, during an accompanying figure, which often didn't show any direction at all.

Nevertheless, what was obvious was (and is) still not written in.
A sense of rhythm and musicality and also understanding of development was expected from the reader.
For example, the first beat of the bar is and was always a a strong beat. To ignore it and miss it, is unmusical.
The execution might be subtle, but is has to be there.

If we have a time signature, the first beat is indicated after the bar line.
If it is visually indicated, so it is audible. To play it indistinct is in fact wrong, because it offends the reasons for a time signature.
This subtle accent does not need a written instruction.
The ancient rules continue in more ways that we talk about it and are written in.
The absolute majority of musical people respects the dynamic mapping laws naturally until today.

Unfortunately a kind of slavishness only to follow what is written - a misunderstanding - made musical scholars to play unmusical out of sheer fear to do the wrong thing.
Unfortunately that was or is the wrong thing to do:
Natural musicality - or the courage to respond to melody and rhythm is still required from a performer.
Without often being able to pinpoint the reason why, we call it a good interpretation, in contrast to a boring performance, when the old dynamic mapping rules are followed.

DONATION: A contribution to this project would be appreciated.



RHYTHMICAL DYNAMICS / MICRO-DYNAMIC UNITS

Each dance had different rules, and the performer had to know them -
this is still today the case for example in flamenco music.
We can't just read the notes. We need first to understand the elements of each dance.
As for Baroque music, for example the Menuet has the main accent on ONE, a small accent on 3 and no accent on 2.
The Sarabande has an accent on ONE and an as strong accent on TWO, but no accent on 3.
So the accentuation is different for each dance, even if the amount of beats might be the same.

Especially in faster movements like a Gigue in 3/8, the main accent on ONE is often placed only on every second bar, meaning we have a unit of 2 bars.
I list all typical rhythmical elements of each dance under the description of the dances below.
It seems a bit complicated, but then, we have only 7 dances to be concerned with: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuet, Bourree, Gavotte and Gigue.

With one layer being the melodic line, the second element to shape the dynamic structure is the rhythmical dynamic.
As mentioned, the "micro-cosmos" in dynamics is determined by rhythm.
All movements, even the Preludes are written in a set measurement, the "time signature".

A view on the music writing might help understand the importance of the rhythmical importance.
As mentioned before virtually all music of stillness, meditative music, had been eliminated from the Western culture.
The second elimination was caused by the fact, that the only people who wrote music down, were monks, who where specialized on sacred music.
A whole heritage of traditional music and composed music has been lost.
Some songs have survived like of the 12th century composer Neidhardt (he published a songbook - that means just the words, as music notation was not offered to him as a layman -
but at the time when music writing was invented c 30 of his songs were still sung and so survived to today, his other hundreds of songs disappeared)
All instrumental compositions disappeared once the performer stopped performing them live.
When in the 16th century music printing came into being, the collectors found village dances, traditional dances and instrumental music of performers living just then.

The Gregorian Chant did not have bar lines in the notation - because it was "still music", not counted, no moving steps involved, meditative.
We know the style of meditative music without rhythm from cultures like India, where an invading culture did not destroy the local culture as Christianity did with local pagan elements of music.
But by collecting dances, the rhythm and beat of each dance was extremely important.
To start with, writers added a dot or a stroke on the first note of the bar, but fairly soon it was arranged to put a line after each bar, dots and lines was applied to too many things and it became confusing.
With the introduction of the bar line so the first note carried always the strong beat.
The dance was announced - like in a "dance call" by a folk band - with the time signature, making sure the character was set for the whole dance.
The title of the dance - setting the rules for accents - was written above.

Each movement with its "time signature" - the "dance call" - was valid for the whole movement with the one exception in the Suites, where it describes a distinct large section in Prelude of Suite 5.
Numerous description of each dance have survived and I refer here to the description of each dance in the chapter "Characteristics of the Suite and its movements".
The Suite as a collection of dances roots still very much in the tradition of finding a new own music in the Western world, now open to be preserved for later generations and open to be learned by the much larger pool of talents including the countries best instrumentalists and composers instead of monks dedicated to mainly religion.

Part of the Baroque style is the domination of the rule of the strong beats over the rule of the melodic line within the bar.
In the Romantic times it was often the opposite.
I take here as an example the Prelude of Suite 2. The first beat rule should over ride the melodic line.
The melodic line view rather leads us from the first beat of the bar to the next first beat of the bar and puts this larger structure into a framework.
But the melodic line would not override or undo the rules of the strong beats in a bar.
This would not be Baroque, but Romantic.
As to the hidden scale, the bass note on the first beat of each bar positions the level of each bar within a large structure, the "macro-cosmos", but within the bar, the rhythm determines the dynamic.



Prelude of Suite 2 (Doerffel, Bach Gesellschaft).
The dynamic structure is dominated by the beat, not the melodic line.
Even the prelude was dominated by the beat, the first being the strong beat - this was a basic rule for all Baroque music, the musical meaning of the bar line:
The bar line indicates, the first note after is the strong beat, its function is to indicate just that.
To go dynamically with only the melodic line would be a Romantic interpretation.

HARMONIC ANALYSIS

During my studies, virtually the only analysis practiced was to find out the key, the modulations, the functions like tonic, dominant etc and the structure / inversions of the chords.
I found today this analysis does not contribute much to interpretation.
Once we know that the 7th is in the bass, it will follow, that it very likely has to lead down into the third of the resolving tonic.
But what does that mean to the interpretation?
It would depend on the melodic line, perhaps creating the graphic crescendo, or if the melody descends as well, it would indicate a diminuendo.
Or when we know it is a tonic or a dominant, it does not tell us anything about the dynamic.
Even if we turn to minor in a movement in major, we are rather led by our intuition, how the character changes instead of the knowledge of name of the function.

As much as the harmonic analysis is interesting from the point of a composer, a performer needs a different kind of analysis, a dynamic map, a performance guide.
The dynamic is defined by the rhythm of the bar and the larger melodic line incorporating all the functions on its way.
Despite the effort to separate the harmonic analysis into a small scale and a large scale system - the chords within a bar & whole sections modulating (as I did in a similar way with the dynamic mapping) it doesn't give hints to the interpretation.
Naming the function does not give away an insight to interpretation. It's a bit like a hobby.

I had heard that the knowledge of the functions helps us memorizing.
But I remember being stuck at a repeat mark finishing in the tonic (usually it is the dominant) and wondered in a hurry, if the composer decided to stay in the tonic, or if he went now to the dominant or perhaps the relative minor, and in my mind I went through all the possible hints.
There was no clue, all possibilities open!

Nevertheless we can't discard a harmonic analysis.
The basic knowledge of the existence of counterpoint makes us see the dynamic map.
For the performance of works by Bach it is essential to make the interweaving parts in the counterpoint structure transparent to the listener.
To name the chords though is just interesting.

This is different for a composer or arranger.
The Cello Suites have been arranged for many instruments.
This is especially challenging if the transcription is for an instrument with larger chordal facilities like the guitar - we have the example of Bach transcribing violin Partita No 3 and cello Suite No 5 for lute.
The act of transcribing needs a thorough analysis of the chords and the progressions including knowing the rules of writing Baroque counterpoint in and out.
I have seen so many transcription, where for example the melody was changed or the bass line, changing the function of the chord, not to mention lines getting lost, led the wrong way and forbidden parallels (which you can hear).
As essential it is to do a harmonic analysis for arranging and transcribing (as little as it contributes to interpretation).
These two fields need much more separation and a very different approach is needed for performing than it has been in our present musical training.

However, I have been so often approached regarding a harmonic analysis of particularly the Preludes of Suite 1 and 3, that I sat down and did one. Here it is:

 




BAROQUE STYLE

In the second part of the 20th century the style of Baroque music has changed substantially.
One of their main pursuits was to look closely at the originals of music and also the sources who could tell us how music had been performed at the time.
Without their push to make the original sources a popular item of interest, to perform according to them and do recordings of this new sound, the following generation like me, would never had developed such an interest in new ways of interpreting and studying the original sources note by note.
The traditional way of interpreting was - and most prints are conceived in this way - to understand compositions solely from itself: what is the structure, how can we perform this piece most effectively (and often it just meant: we play our home edition or our teacher's edition or way of playing).
Certain new beliefs contradicting the common classical ways of phrasing and sound production emerged:
Baroque was suddenly different to the music from the classical period to today.


VIBRATO

The new awareness that Baroque had a certain style different from our style today concerned e.g. with the vibrato.
Despite that we have several references from Baroque players and earlier commenting on plenty of use of vibrato, the opposite became the fashion:
The information taken concerned maybe singing and recorder, but were transferred to strings.
Also some Baroque composers and writers disliked vibrato and complained of overuse (which of course was a proof of use in itself).
In a larger view the complaints came from Germany and Austria, where in Berlin 80 years later another figure with a dislike of vibrato appeared, the violinist Spohr, who complaint about Paganini's style of playing with too much vibrato.

What we can say today is: Baroque music has been played with vibrato by Baroque musicians, as I will cite below.
In Austria Leopold Mozart makes even a distinction of many different kinds of vibrato, slow, fast, starting out from stillness to movement etc, documenting a sophisticated culture of vibrato.
Contrary to the Baroque era in the Romantic era peaking with the violinist Joseph Joachim, he is said to have used hardly ever vibrato, which means contemporary performances of the Brahms, Bruch and Mendelssohn violin concertos were performed without vibrato!
Kreisler then re introduced the free use of vibrato in the German speaking culture in the 1920th.

For me the whole movement back to using no vibrato is not Baroque but rather a step back into the Romantic era by musicians, who remembered this style from childhood - 'long' ago - but not that long, not Baroque.
Interestingly enough no one today insists to play Brahms without vibrato, but Bach or Vivaldi, where we know, surely in Italy they used vibrato to the full as Geminiani describes - and for very sure, in the Romantic times they did not use vibrato.
Miraculously the Baroque time has been singled out for using no vibrato, and how often have I seen half - informed conductors proud to use "Baroque style", which meant: we use no vibrato, and used it quasi as a substitute for interpretation.

Here are some references from Baroque times:
(1636) Marin Mersenne writes in 'Harmonie Universelle' that: "The tone of the violin is the most ravishing [when the players] sweeten it ... by certain tremblings which delight the mind."
Further on he remarks: "The verre cassι [vibrato] is not used so much now [on the lute] as it was in the past, because the older ones used it almost all the time.
But it must be used in moderation."
- I feel we should see the statement 'in older times' in perspective.
It may refer just to an old or a few old local musicians he knew.
People in this time were not exposed to recordings like us and had a much more limited exposure to the number of performers they heard.

(1730) The Baroque violinist Leclair talked about vibrato filling out the sound, and his peer Geminiani (1752) tried to use it as much as possible.
Leopold Mozart, the father of the composer warned against its overuse, for fear one might appear “to have the palsy”.
On the other hand Leopold Mozart made a distinction of different styles of vibrato, according to the music: slow vibrato, fast, growing from stillness to movement and even accelerating vibrato.
This variety demonstrates that the use of vibrato occupied the thought of musicians at the time.
As to the appearance "to have the palsy", it reminds me of musically ignorant Aristotle, who nevertheless warned in his books against playing the oboe, because people might laugh, when they see a respectable person with the big blowing cheeks.
Again Leopold Mozart might have had a certain person in mind, who actually shook like "have the palsy", when he played vibrato - as there are people today.
We just would never consider making a point of it today, as they would not be worldwide known and have a large influence.
"
However we find interesting comments of 'vibrato haters' who see vibrato as an activity of the commons and no vibrato as "real culture" as this excerpt shows:
(Written by Russian virtuoso Simeon Bellison for the magazine Clarinet in 1953): "Vibrato is as dangerous a sickness as diabetes. ... But if ever America stopped being stubborn and followed the example of Europe, it would get rid of shaky playing once and forever ... If the plague persists, boards of education must call a conference of musicians to attack the problem and everything related to it."
Bellison's article was written at a time, in which clarinet soloists like Benny Goodman freely used vibrato.
I wonder why I know Benny Goodman and not Bellison?
I find Interesting in the whole discussion, that many people I met, who are proud of not using vibrato, feel always special with that, in a way better, even if they are ignorant, have never read a source.


STRUCTURE & the new ROMANTICISM in Baroque dress.

Unfortunately another trait went hand in hand with the no vibrato style by random followers, who believed, understanding can be in the way of spontaneity:
it became fashionable to ignore structural elements and e.g. emphasize notes picked at an odd spot in a phrase, where ever one felt like as long as it was not based on structural thought.
This "expression" went hand in hand with (for cellists) noisy breathing, head and hair shaking, pulling faces - from smiles to anger and heavenly delight - and bursts of "feeling" at the odd spots, as if feelings without thought are just greater.
In fact, this idea is very Romantic, not like Bach at all, and not Baroque either.
The Baroque period was proud of perfect structure, proud of reason and did not see feeling and rhythm in contrast to intellect.

If we look at the compositions by Bach, we find a genius of structure in composition, perhaps the greatest of all.
Ignoring the structure in his composition is ignoring Bach and not understanding the musical language he uses.
Ignoring the structure I see as an unwillingness to understand what he was saying maybe based an inability to understand and communicate the structure to an audience.
I find it nearly offensive to play dances with so much "feeling", that the rhythm is distorted. Bach was known for his strong rhythm as well as for an architect of his compositions.
To ignore it might be fashion, bad is surely not Baroque; it is bad Baroque.

As to "feeling": We can't play and strongly express a phrase with our full expression and no feeling.
As a strong interpreter we need to relive our interpretation and phrasing, the up's and downs with our feeling every time anew.
If we don't relive our emotion in a performance, the performance will be stale.
If we drift away, we forget to express the structure, our feeling does not get involved.
The structure and rhythm are in fact the main elements to evoke our feelings again and again. The involvement is dependent on the depth we understand it.
This is opposite to unstructured emotional outbursts and facial expressions, which one can put on, when sight reading Bach without understanding anything in the composition.

Another misunderstood aspect of the new "Romantic-Baroque" is to distort rhythm.
The Suite is a set of dances with the exception of the introductory Prelude.
It is mandatory to understand not only the tempo, accents and characteristics of the dances, it is also vital to play them in a way, that the pulse is prominent.
In a good performance the listener should get the definite feeling that a dance is going on with the regularity of either a walking steps or a jump; this includes of course naturally occuring slow downs as one would do in a dance.
These irregularities develop organically. The pulse is not stiff like a metronome, but can be felt.
Especially Bach has been reported to have had an unusually strong sense of rhythm.
In the new 'Romantic-Baroque" fashion though performers indulge to suddenly delay, virtually stop in the middle of phrases and steps, in fact so strong, that any dancer would fall over by surprise.
These surpriese are by purpose set on odd spots in order to surprise, as if it proves a more real feeling.
Of course these "surprises" are practiced in and fake, but attempted to be loved by semi educated audiences, who would not like to miss out liking it out of fear to be seen not understanding the style.
(This reminds me so much of John Cage laughing back stage, when the pretend to understand audience stayed absolutely serious watching his latest stage jokes)
If any performer plays a dance of a Suite in some rhythm that does not flow naturally, but has artificial bubbles and stops, it is un - Baroque, bad Baroque and not in style at all.

I might add here, that our present culture is used to observe feelings only, when they are visible:
Through mainly movies and TV we are used to watch actors, who have to make feelings visible to be recognized by the viewers.
When they study to express the feelings of their role they are told: how should the audience notice what you feel, when they can't see it? And this is correct.
Through the visual media many expect to see feelings. If acted or not, does not matter; even badly acted will do, as it gives us a hint of what we should feel.
As a consequence many today don't listen for the feeling demonstrated and don't hear it, when they don't see it.
They unfortunately prefer a facial artificial expression with a dull sound to an emotional performance by a musician, whose feelings are expressed through music.
I have read on "Youtube" comments complaining, that Pablo Casals plays "cold", because his face doesn't express the music, but his instrument!
(One wonders if the commentator had ears and aural perception at all - are many people today prone to be cheated by fake acting?)

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For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com

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Characteristics of THE SUITE and its MOVEMENTS

A "Suite" is a unit, a set of dances in the same key, based on the same scale, introduced by a Prelude.
For me the Baroque Suite reminds me of what we call today: "world music".
World music means for us today listening to the music of other cultures, getting inspired, and for many musicians it means: joining in, attempting to play music ourselves of many cultures.
For Bach's time it looked like that:
The introductory Prelude is followed by the German Allemande, the French Courante, the Spanish Sarabande, the Italian Menuets and the Gigue of the British Isles!
A truly international set of folk dances, inspiring and colorful.
For us today - as players - it means:
Each dance has to sound different, has a different shade and colour; they are not just Baroque movements of the same composer in the same key. That would be boring.
With each new dance we are introduced - or have to introduce the listener - into a different culture, language and history, expressed in music after a characteristic dance.

Each of these dances relates to movement and steps.
The steps had of course a certain order and this must be reflected in the accents in the music.
Therefore it is essential to know, on which beats the accents fell, as this determined the character and also the dynamic of the dance.
Although only the Menuet was still danced in Germany in Bach's time, the Courante was danced in France, and certainly the character never changed.
The speed was the most varied element of the dances, changed over time and changed even more, if the dance was just used as quasi an art form.

As to the term "Suite", we suppose Bach actually used this term - and we surely use it today - to the terms Partita and Sonata.
For Bach here is virtually no distinction between the set of the cello Suites to his parallel sets of the "Partitas" for the violin.
To confuse the matter even more, the oldest manuscript by Kellner is titled: "Sechs Suonaten" (six Suonatas).
To our utter confusion the first movement of his Suonatas states as head title: "Suitte 1" (he had his own ideas about spelling).
Anna Magdalena, and also manuscript "C" and "D" call the set "Suites (Suiten)", what we use today.
But the first editions use the term "Sonaten" (Dotzauer) and Janet de Cotelle even: "Sonates e Etudes".

To be more precise we would call the Suites today "French Suites" as the titles are in French:
Allemande, not Alman/Almain (as in the English Suite) / Courante, not Corrente (Italian), Sarabande and Gigue, not Jig (English/Irish/Scottish).
But here too is confusion; manuscript "D" called the first Prelude: "Praeludium", the German (Latin) term. He calls though all other Preludes: "Prelude".
Anna Magdalena calls Prelude IV also "Preludium".
The other movement with different spellings is the Menuet (as by Anna Magdalena & "C") or Menuetto (Kellner / "D" / Dotzauer) or Minuetto (Cotelle).

The PRELUDE

The Prelude is an introduction to the following dance movements of the Suite.
Literally translated pre-lude means a "fore-play", the part before the real thing starts.
In general it introduces the key and sets the character for the Suite.
From the composers and the performers view it is the least restricted movement; it does not need to follow a certain pattern or rhythm like the dances, it is freer.
For me the Preludes are often the strongest piece in the Suites, each is very powerful, with a strong impact.
They can stand alone as a performance item.

Historically the Prelude had often been improvised even during Bach's early years; the performer made the Prelude up on the spot.
As a composition it was frequently written without bar lines as e.g. in Preludes of Bach's friend Weiss (who was regarded the finest - and highest paid - lutenist of the century).

Bach's Preludes to the Suites should convey an air of freedom, "quasi improvisando" as Dvorak would say.
It would certainly be a misunderstanding to play a Prelude regular like to a metronome.
The difference to the strictness of the following dances should remain noticeable.

Structurally the Preludes in the major keys consist basically of triads and scales, introducing the key of the Suite.
Suite 1 and 4 have a distinct separation into 2 parts, returning at the end to the starting theme, a feature shared with the other major Preludes.
Prelude 1 and 3 share an impressive section in the 3rd quarter resting on on the Dominant note played with an open string and wandering melodies / chords upon this pedal point.
The Preludes in the minor keys display a much more melodious character.



The ALLEMANDE

Rhythmical dynamics (micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing):

All Allemandes are in 4/4 with up beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent.
The THIRD beat is felt strong, but is commonly a soft ending, whereas strong endings are on One or also on FOUR.
The soft THREE is strong felt, but little heard.
If the ending is on FOUR, the THIRD beat gains some heaviness.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

_____________________

The Allemande, the German dance of the Allemannes, has been described as a stately dance in 4/4, a calm walking dance without jumps.
Allemande and Courante formed a pair, in which the Allemande is the calmer dance in 4, the Courante the faster dance in 3.
Bach's student Mattheson describes the Allemande as "the image of a content and satisfied spirit, which enjoys good order and calm".
I often recommend to count for study purposes the Allemande in 1/8; counting 1/8 makes us not rush, feel the flow.

Typical of the Allemande, the last bar starts with the same note as the following last chord - this is in the first part the key note of the dominant, D, in the second part, the ending, the key note of the tonic, G.
The following figure after the stated dominant or tonic is to be played slower - traditionally the dancing couple turned towards each other and boughed.

We can distinguish in the 6 Suites two different styles of Allemandes:
Suite 1 to 4 the Allemandes are composed in a rhythmically simpler, mainly flowing style of 1/16 with only occasional changes of rhythm, either 1/8 or dotted.
Suite 5 and 6 show a far more complex rhythm, more dotting, 1/32 and even 1/64 divisions.
These later Allemandes also switch more often between parts, top melody, bass and even a quite developed middle part in some sections.
The Allemandes of Suite 5 and 6 compare in their complexity to the ones in the violin Partitas, virtually equal in style and distinctly different to Suite 1 to 4.
This points again to the observation made before, that Bach might have written the cello suites in sections und wrote other works in between.
He developed to a different style from 1 to 6 and arrived between 4 and 6 at the same style as the violin Sonatas and Partitas are written in.

Allemande 6 has the subtitle: "molto adagio" - very slow.
Although this tempo indication is unique it points out Bach's perception of the Allemande.
Some interpreters stated that the 1/16 indicate a faster speed.
It is quite the opposite. A basic fast beat does not allow a high division of the beat.
Slow movements have higher division, e.g. the Allemande in Suite 6 has several 1/64.
Only Allemandes and Sarabandes have 1/32 - and one phrase in the Adagio introduction of Suite 5 - all slow movements.



The COURANTE


Rhythmical dynamics (micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing):

Courante's are in 3/4 except 3/2 in Suite 5.
They all start with an up beat.
All three beats can be felt distinctly.
The main accent is on ONE.
TWO and THREE have a minor accent, of which THREE is slightly stronger.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar, in the Courante's of Suite 3, 4 and 6 also 2 bars.
In this case the ONE of the "off bar" has a soft accent, felt, but little heard.

_____________________

The French Courante was the favorite dance of King Louis XIV and he is said to have been very good at it.
After reading this interesting detail I often imagine a king dancing, when I play a Courante.
Literally "Courante" goes back to the French word for running (as in "current").
Interestingly the French Courante slowed down during its history and became characterized by complex rhythms and a speed of rather "slow to hesitant".
The Bach student Mattheson described the character of the Courante as "sweet hopefulness, something of the longing, something of the cheerful in the melody."
The Italian cousin, the "Corrente" remained fast.
Compared to typical Italian Courante's by other composers Bach's Courante's in the cello suites are mostly rhythmically relatively complex.
Despite the association with the literal meaning of the word they are not too fast, remain a gentle dance.
The only Courante of the 6 Suites, which fits the description of the fast Italian Corrente is the Courante of Suite 3.

All Courante's are in 3/4 except the Courante of Suite 5, which is in 3/2.
The 3/2 Courante's are slower than the 3/4 Courante's, surely "slow hesitant".
The speed can be demonstrated by comparing to the Courante in Lute Suite No 1, which are very similar in character.
The fast divisions in a later section in the lute Suite limits and shows us the tempo (see Courante Suite 5).
In the 3/2 the beat on each 1/2 seems to be heavier than the 1/4 beat in the 3/4, slowing down the tempo and forming it into a gentler dance;
each melody note of the 1/8 has some importance, more than the quite ornamental 1/8 runs and arpeggios in the 3/4 Courante's.
(The Courante of Lute Suite 1 sounds surprisingly on cello very nice; the transcription will appear on this web page in late 2012)



The SARABANDE

Rhythmical dynamics (micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing):

All Sarabande's are in 3, Suite 1 - 5 in 3/4, Suite 6 in 3/2.
All Sarabande's start on the first beat.
The Sarabande has two main accents, on ONE and on TWO.
Both accents are even; in some Sarabande's the ONE is stronger, in others the TWO.
A good indicator is the use of double/triple stops on the strong accent.
The THIRD beat has no accent.
Micro-dynamic units are one bar and sometimes 2 bars.

_____________________

HISTORY / The relation of the Sarabande to the "Folias" and the "Chaconne"

The Sarabande has its origin in Spain; it is a slow majestic processional dance in 3/4 or 3/2 with an accent on the 2nd beat and the first.
There are 3 different versions as to its origin:
1) The dance comes from Persia, Sarband meaning a ladies headband.
2) The dance is introduced from Mexico into Spain, first mentioned in a poem written by Fernando Guzman in 1539.
3) A dancer called" Zarabande" invented the dance in the 2nd half of the 16th century.

Although there are different opinions to the origin of the Sarabande, they have important features in common:
The Sarabande appeared in the 16th century and has not been known before.
It appeared in Spain as a dance in 3/4 or 3/2.

Strictly speaking it was not a new dance.
It is rather a development from an earlier dance, the "Folias", which had specific guidelines; had a fixed key (D minor) and a fixed series of harmonies.
The statement of the fixed theme was followed by an outburst of several free improvisations or written variations.



La Folia, here by Marin-Marais

Folia d'Espana, the predecessor of the "Sarabande" with a fixed theme and free variations.
The Folias was for hundreds of years the compulsary theme for all professional viola da gamba players to either write variations on or improvise freely.
It is a wonderful theme and composers from 1400 to today wrote variations on it including Vivaldi, Corelli, Scarlatti, Marin-Marais, Rachmaninov, Sor, Ponce, Giuliani.

The Sarabande freed itself from the strict theme and is the generalized form with the same rhythm and also included variations like the Folias, but usually restricted on the repeats.
It became shortly after its appearance a fashion dance with words and movement (therefore probably linked to an "inventor").
It was banned in 1583 because of obscene words and movements, and it was suppressed at the end of the reign of Philip II In the 17th and 18th century.

At the same time another related form arrived, the Ciaconna or Chaconne, which was also a Sarabande.
The Chaconne occupies a position between the "La Folia" and the Sarabande. It is more general than the La Folia, but more specialist or restricted than the Sarabande.
It was usually played in D minor and had a strict bass theme, although the theme was chosen by the composers and was not fixed like in the Folias.
In the cause of history the Chaconne became the composition for elaborate variations, where as in the Sarabande the only variation left was the common practice to include ornaments in the repeats.
Only rarely composers wrote variations for the Sarabande (though Handel did in the keyboard Sonata D minor).



Bach Chaconne from Partita D minor. Rhythm as in the Sarabande, but instead of an A-B form it kept from the La Folia theme with variations.
Performance here: Nathan Milstein's last public concert.

The Sarabande entered the rest of Europe later as a purely instrumental dance of the suite, but surprisingly was sometimes in England played fast.
But whatever its earlier particular reputation it might have had, the Sarabande was generally a slow movement, which could express strong feelings.
The Sarabande is the resting point within the Suite, the only really slow and meditative movement.
Because of its slow speed the Sarabande asks for more fullness to fill the empty space.
No other movement has so many double, triple and quadruple stops as the Sarabande.
The slowness allows reaching comfortably for complex chords, both with the bow and the left hand.
This allows for a fully developed polyphony in most Sarabande's.


In all Sarabande's of the cello suites except Suite 5, we find still similarities to the old "Folias":
The melody moves usually in the first bars only in tiny intervals, repetitions of the same note or intervals of not larger than a tone.
This trait points to an "Folia" like interpretation of heavy viola da gamba orchestra like beats, which decline and don't include a crescendo during a note, but only in steps.

In most Sarabande's the melody and the base have their own independent movements and often even the middle part, a fully developed counterpoint.
As an interpreter we need to help the listener understand both parts, the bass and the top melody.

Since we often can't hold the bass notes to its full written extend, we need to guide the listener by giving the bass notes a firm distinct character.
The best way is assessing the shortest sounding of the base melody notes, usually determined by having to move up to the higher strings.
We shape the character of the other bass notes in similar length and articulation.
Now the listener can follow the bass notes like an instrument of a certain character - even if there are gaps in between - and is able to hear it moving independent from the top melody.
In many places the middle notes don't form an important part, but are only necessary because on the string instrument we need to pass all strings in between to reach from a low string to the highest one.
These passing notes can sometimes be virtually skimmed without sounding out. It would be wrong to stay on them, just because we can reach them instead of the out of reach bass notes.

The editor Kurtz' comment to play all notes to its full extend is therefore wrong:
Firstly we can't hold the base notes, if he demands it or not; it is an irrational request.
Secondly the attempt to do so leads to holding unimportant middle notes, which distorts the counterpoint, which is meant to be heard and noticed.
(see analysis of bar 2 of Sarabande 1 underneath the example)
Thirdly the bass notes should match in character, if they relate to each other.
Last, the character of the Sarabande is not to play always dragging long notes, but it has often a rhythmical component - especially when notes are repeated - to fade the chord (note) and emphasize the character of a heavy beat.

As mentioned above, the bass lines in the Sarabande seem sometimes not that smooth,
e.g. a leading note is not dissolved into the neighbour note as it should, but into an open string a seventh lower.
I feel this has the following reason:
In Suites 1 to 3 Bach did not seem to have full confidence in the intonation of cellists.
In general, as the Suites get progressively harder, they become more demanding for the left hand.
In particular, Bach goes in Suite 1 - 3 to pains in the Sarabande's to accommodate open strings in double-stops whenever possible.
In order to do so he sacrifices the elegance of the melodic line.
As an example I show here bar 2 of Sarabande 1 (we find the same in bar 3 of the Sarabande in Suite 3).

 


Sarabande 1 / bar 2 - the F# leads to the (low) G - with a negligible D in the middle, for the convenience of cellists - then the part continues with F to E.

In our aim to interpret - which means translating without using words - we need to explain all parts to the listener, so they can follow.
So we need to look for methods to explain very clearly and trying to understand the psychology of the perception of a listener.
The guided listener can follow, what is related in a similar character.
In this case we find in the middle part 3 note values, first a 1/4, then a 1/2 and last a 1/16.
In order to relate them to each other we need to play all 3 of them as 1/16!

Most cellists let go of the bass note to keep the middle note, as they say, to hold notes to their full value. But they don't.
They declare themselves technically defeated and keep the middle note, because they can't keep the bass note.
Not only is this unfair to the bass note, it also is empty of any musical understanding.
Looking at the history, why all notes of a triple stop are written to a full value, we come to compositions for voices (or instruments) which can easily play many parts, like the organ.
The tradition to write all parts to a value so they independently make up the measure of a full bar has its reaso: the composer should always be aware, that there is no involuntary gap, a beat is missing.
Well, cellists have to miss at least one of 3 or 4 notes written in a chord, when it is held longer.

Our decision, which one to hold should be a musical one, not be based on technical insufficiency.
If we decide to play all 3 notes as 1/16, the listener is guided from one similar note to the next.
The middle part becomes obvious, and this clarity contributes to the beauty of the piece.

Often the beginnings of the Sarabande's sound muddy, lack clarity. The reason is the bureaucratic attitude to literally play one note after the other to full length as possible (or better impossible),
not thinking about our technical shortcomings and not daring to think musically.
But is it not our duty to explain the music without words?

As I will point out in the analysis of Suite 5, this Sarabande is the centrepiece of citations of the name of Bach: B-A-C-H in music (in German note names).



The Group of Menuet's, Bourree's and Gavotte's

This set of dances is in the cello suites always expressed with a double set of contrasting movements.
In Suite 1 - 3 the method of contrast is the change from major to minor or minor to major.
In Suite 4 - 6 the contrast is expressed only by character, the mode is unchanged.
I wondered if this latter expression is a development from an earlier style of writing to a later one with an increased experience of writing a solo set for a string instrument.
If we look at the violin Partitas, we find in Suite 1 several "Doubles", always in the same key as the relating dance. In Partita 3 both Menuet's are in E major.
Might this be another hint, that at least the Cello Suites 1 - 3 are written before the violin solo works?
We can find another parallel change of "taste" in the ending of Prelude No 5:
In the cello version the last chord is major, whereas in the (probably later) lute version Bach doesn't leave the original mode and the last chord is minor.


The MENUET'S / MINUET'S (Suite 1 & 2)

Rhythmical dynamics (micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing):


All Menuet's are in 3/4 and start on the first beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent, is often missing or the end of a phrase, transitional or an accompaniment note.
The THIRD beat has an extra step (a minute one, therefore: MINUeT). It can be felt and heard, but the character is usually short.
Micro-dynamic units are usually 2 bars, but sometimes 1 bar or even 4 bars in the first part of Menuet 1 of Suite 1.
Sometimes 2 bars together form a unit as of 3/2 instead of 6/4. The accents are divided over the 1/2 notes as if the tempo is slowed down to half speed.
The last 2 bars of Minuet 1 of Suite 2 are such a unit of 6 beats, or better, 3 beats of 1/2 notes ignoring the bar line.

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The Menuet (or Minuet) is an Italian and later French dance in 3/4, moving, but not fast.
It was still danced during Bach's time and was the most widely spread European court dance.
Menuet's take the middle position between the slow Sarabande and the faster Gigue.
It was stately walking dance, not jumping, which describes a moderate tempo.
The word Menuet or Minuet goes back to its Italian origin, describing a characteristic small step on the 3rd beat (minute).
The Menuets of Suites 1 & 2 are written in an ABA form, Menuet - , Menuet II and a da capo of Menuet I without repeat, a pattern that stayed throughout the classics.
Also, both set of Menuets are pairs alternating major and minor based on the same keynote to give the pair a strong contrast.

It is interesting also, that both Menuets in minor (Menuet 2 of Suite 1 and Menuet 1 of Suite 2) start in the harmony of a Phrygian scale.
I could not find anything in the history of the Menuets mentioning this character, but minor Menuets of Handel and Purcell show the same harmony.
If it were a common form it would prove that in Menuet 2 of Suite 1 the E's are in fact Eb, if not the second time a E natural is a variety of the common form.



The BOURREE'S (Suite 3 & 4)


Rhythmical dynamics (micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing):

All Bourree's are in 4/4 and have an upbeat of 1/4.
The main accent is felt on ONE.
In playing often FOUR and ONE can have even strength or FOUR can even be even stronger than ONE.
The next beats TWO and THREE are the softer counterpart.
A strong dance with a feeling of steps.
However, there are parts in the Bourree's, in which ONE and THREE carry the accent and a 2/2 feeling is predominant.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

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Literally, the French Bourree is the peasant's folk dance mentioned first in the 16th century.
It is a quite hefty dance in 4/4, each beat with some emphasis, cheerful, but not rushed, a typical village dance.
Every Bourree starts with a anacrusis, a one 1/4 upbeat opening.
Matheson describes it as: untroubled calm, a little slow, easy going and yet not unpleasant."
Usually the Bourree's are unfortunately played too fast.
We should keep in mind, that they are positioned equal to the Menuet, but in 4/4, between the slow Sarabande and the faster Gigue, not competing with the Gigue.
It would be wrong in the Suite to let two movement follow with a too similar tempo.
Bourree 2 of Suite 4 is the first of the middle movements, which is set in the same key as the first of the pair.
It is also the shortest movement in the 6 Suites, but with an unforgettable rhythm, a quite cheeky counterpoint between melody and bass, sometimes within one stroke.
In Suite 4 - 6 Bach looked for different contrasts than major and minor.



The GAVOTTE'S (Suite 5 & 6)


Rhythmical dynamics (micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing):

Gavottes are in 2/2 or 4/4 and all start with an upbeat of 2/4 (1/2).
The main accent is on ONE.
The other accent is on THREE.
Both are strong accents.
Even if written in 4/4, the feeling is 2/2.
TWO and FOUR have an upbeat character and no accent of their own.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

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The Gavotte is a dance in 2/2 or 4/4 , always starting on the 3rd beat.
The Gavotte was known to be a lively dance and is related to the word "cavort", wild jumping about.
Both first Gavottes 1 have a bit edgy feeling, unsmooth.
Matheson emphasizes, the Gavotte should have a feeling of 2/2 and not 4/4.
He writes also: "the skipping nature is a true trait of these Gavottes, not the running".

The Gavotte's have an interesting harmonic layout, which is unusual, perhaps "cavort".
I couldn't find general information on this subject, but it seems, Bach put by purpose things in a "cavort" manner:
The carrying harmony is set unlike all other movements not on beat ONE, but on the Third beat.
The second half of Gavotte I, Suite 5, starts with a G minor Dominant chord, going towards the major Tonic in a piece, where the tonic is C minor.
It seems to me as if Bach put like in the Cantatas meaning into the chords: "cavort" is expressed by turning the modes of major and minor back to front,
beat One is swapped with beat Three - the crazy dance, where rules are offended in a masterly way.

The 2nd Gavottes are contrasting Gavotte to 1, but in different ways.
They key is maintained in both sets of the 2 Gavottes.
In Suite 5 we find probably the smoothest flowing movement in the whole 6 Suites, contrasting the edgiest, Gavotte 1.
In Suite 6 Gavotte 2 resembles very strongly a bagpipe song, reminding of an Alpine village dance.



The GIGUE


Rhythmical dynamics (micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing):

All Gigue's start with 1/8 upbeat.
The time signatures of the Gigue's are the most diverse ones.
The basic unit is a 3/8.
Suite 2,3 and 5 are in 3/8.
The accents are on ONE and a smaller one on THREE.
But we mainly feel in the Gigue the pulse of the 3/8 unit as one beat (we could not tap our foot continuously 3 times per bar).
Very commonly micro-dynamic unit compasses 2 bars, of which the first bar is stronger with a strong ONE;
in the second bar we feel the accent, but it is heard as a soft note.

Suite 1 and 6 are written in 6/8.
In Suite 1 we find a rare accentuation on the 2nd/8 (and the 5th).
The micro-dynamic unit is one bar.
Suite 4 is in 12/8, an Italian Gigue.
This is the fastest Gigue; we don't feel the beat of the single 1/8 at all, but only the 3/8 as a unit like a 4/4 bar in triplets.
The units are one bar.

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The Gigue as a word has a central position in the European music making world and connected to many other areas.
It goes back to "gambol" has to do with gambling and viola da gamba.
Musicians know it from having a "gig" and Germans call the fiddle or violin a "Geige".
Gigue, also written "Jig" we know from jig-saw (puzzles) .
The word comes from all Celtic areas, from ancient times, but is first mentioned in a written source in the 12th century in Italy.
(We must keep here in mind, that the only institution, which taught writing was in the hand of monks.
Writing about profane matters in music was not common)

The word "Gig" is used besides in music for "a thing that moves lightly", which can be a 2 wheeled vehicle drawn by horses, a light boat, a sledge or a bow on the string.
In English dictionaries of etymology the word fiddle stems from the word "Jig / Gigue" and points out, that the Gigue was a fiddle piece rather than a dance.
The German dictionary does not state this connection.
The Baerenreiter edition links the old French "giguer" to the Celtic "gambol", which then relates to "viola da Gamba" and gambling.

Despite its age, the Gigue or Jig is still a favourite dance in all Celtic countries.
There exist virtually thousands of them and folk fiddle players make up new ones all the time.

It occurs as a regular in the Baroque Suite and is the only dance, which is never played slowly.
That does not means, we should rush it.
The French Gigue was composed in a dotted rhythm, slowing down the speed naturally a little bit, though not too much.
The measure is 3/8 or 6/8 and 12/8 in the Italian Giga (Suite 4), which is the fastest (as was the Italian "Corrente").
The French style 3/8 Gigue of Suite 5 though is composed in sets of two bars, making again up 6 beats.

General overview of the harmonic structure of the dance-movements

The dance movements of all 6 suites are remarkably similar in structure, all 36 dance movements havein fact the same structure, from the shortest to the longest one :
All dance movements are written in two parts and each part is repeated.
In contrast a - and as strict - no Prelude includes a repeat.
This is intersting as in the Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin these elements vary.

I will give here an overview of the harmonic structure, which is - as with all Baroque composers - fairly uniform, but in fact not always.
I note here the harmonies of the beginning and end of each part.
In this sketch I indicate the sections framed by repeat marks; I indicate the keys and in brackets the functions.

In most movements the upbeats are in the same key as the first full bar (or full bar after the repeats) in others they may indicate a Dominant character.
In this sketch I refer always to the first full bar with the exception of the Gavottes.
In the Gavottes the starting chord - or note - on the 3rd beat has the strength and impact of the real beginning, carrying usually the Tonic harmony.
In the other movements I made a note when the beats has a Dominant character {upbeats in Dominant character}.

Abbrevations:
G - G major (etc) / Dm - D minor
(T) - Tonic / (S) - Subdominant / (D) - Dominant / (Rmaj) - relative major of Tonic / (minD) - minor Dominant (see comment in the chapter on "Gavotte")

Suite No 1 - G major (Menuet II in G minor)

Allemande ||: G (T) - D (D) :||: D (D) - G (T) :||

Courante    ||: G (T) - D (D) :||: D (D) - G (T) :||

Sarabande ||: G (T) - D (D) :||: D (D) - G (T) :||

Menuet I      ||: G (T) - D (D) :||: D (D) - G (T) :||

Menuet II     ||: G (T) - D (D) :||: D (D) - G (T) :||

Gigue           ||: G (T) - D (D) :||: D (D) - G (T) :||

Suite No 2 - D minor (Menuet II in D major)

Allemande ||: Dm (T) - A (D) :||: A (D) - Dm (T) :|| {upbeats in Dominant character}

Courante    ||: Dm (T) - A (D) :||: A (D) - Dm (T) :||

Sarabande||: Dm (T) - F (Rmaj) :||: F (Rmaj) - Dm (T) :||

Menuet I     ||: Dm (T) - A (D) :||: A (D) - Dm (T) :||

Menuet II    ||: D (T) - A (D) :||: A (D) - D (T) :||

Gigue          ||: Dm (T) - A (D) :||: F (Rmaj) - Dm (T) :||

Suite No 3 - C major (Bourree II in C minor)

Allemande ||: C (T) - G (D) :||: G (D) - C (T) :|| {upbeats in Dominant character}

Courante    ||: C (T) - G (D) :||: G (D) - C (T) :||

Sarabande||: C (T) - G (D) :||: G (D) - C (T) :||

Bourree I    ||: C (T) - G (D) :||: G (D) - C (T) :||

Bourree II   ||: Cm (T) - Eb (Rmaj) :||: Eb (Rmaj) - C (T) :||

Gigue          ||: C (T) - G (D) :||: G (D) - C (T) :||

Suite No 4 - Eb major

Allemande ||: Eb (T) - Bb (D) :||: Bb (D) - Eb (T) :|| {upbeats in Dominant character}

Courante    ||: Eb (T) - Bb (D) :||: Bb (D) - Eb (T) :||

Sarabande||: Eb (T) - Bb (D) :||: Bb (D) - Eb (T) :||

Bourree I    ||: Eb (T) - Bb (D) :||: Bb (D) - Eb (T) :||

Bourree II   ||: Ab (S) - Eb (T) :||: Ab (S) - Eb (T) :|| {upbeats in Dominant character, here Eb (original T) as D to S}

Gigue          ||: Eb (T) - Bb (D) :||: Bb (D) - Eb (T) :||

Suite No 5 - C minor

Allemande ||: Cm (T) - G (D) :||: G (D) - Cm (T) :||

Courante    ||: Cm (T) - G (D) :||: G (D) - Cm (T) :|||

Sarabande||: Cm (T) - Eb (Rmaj) :||: Eb (Rmaj) - Cm (T) :||

Gavotte I    ||: Cm (T) - G (D) :||: Gm (minD) - Cm (T) :|| {indicated harmonies starting on the 3rd beat} see also: Gavotte

Gavotte II   ||: Cm (T) - Cm (T) :||: Eb (Rmaj) - Cm (T) :|| {indicated harmonies starting on the 3rd beat}

Gigue          ||: C (T) - Eb (Rmaj) :||: Eb (Rmaj) - C (T) :||

Suite No 6 - D major

Allemande ||: D (T) - A (D) :||: A (D) - D (T) :||

Courante    ||: D (T) - A (D) :||: A (D) - D (T) :||

Sarabande||: D (T) - A (D) :||: A (D) - D (T) :||

Gavotte I    ||: D (T) - A (D) :||: A (D) - D (T) :|| {indicated harmonies starting on the 3rd beat}see also: Gavotte

Gavotte II   ||: D (T) - D (T) :||: D (T) - D (T) :|| {indicated harmonies starting on the 3rd beat}

Gigue          ||: D (T) - A (D) :||: A (D) - D (T) :|| {upbeats in Dominant character}

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For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com


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INTERPRETATION in DETAIL - This section will be updated and extended regularly.

SUITE I

(For a harmonic analysis please click in the box here below:)

 

 

 

Key: G major

Difficulty: Technically the easiest of all Suites, grade 5-7 out of 10

Character: Very pleasant, harmonies are quite uncomplicated, the movements short.
If one wants to play a whole Suite, experience the completeness, this is the one to choose.

 

PRELUDE

I chose The Prelude of Suite 1 an example to show how the different editions can effect our interpretation.

The Prelude of Suite No 1 is the most played, most listened to movement of the Suites, in fact the most popular cello piece ever written, even more popular than "the Swan" or Elgar's cello concerto!
It is also in character, speed and bowings the most diversely played movement.
To insist that only one way is correct shows a lack of knowledge.
We are not sure how it had been played and how it was originally written, not to mention that in every time of history every performer has a natural right to perform accordingly to their times, personality and also the built of their instrument and bow.
We need to keep in mind, that Bach himself changed his own compositions around when he re used them a couple of years later.
How much more would he - the great improviser - have changed the way he would have performed them.

We can get a glimpse of how different a movement of Bach's cello Suites can be performed and how complex the reasons behind it can be in just the Prelude G major.

Bar 1 - 4

Most early sources show the same bowing for bar 1 - 4. I chose here the following early sources with this bowing:
Manuscript (C) c 1750-1800 / the first Dotzauer edition 1826 / the first Bach Gesellschaft (bach society) edition by Doerffel 1879.
Many cellists today chose this bowing including Rostropovich, Yoyo Ma and myself.


Manuscript (C) c 1750-1800

 


First Dotzauer edition 1826 (left) - First Bach Gesellschaft (Bach Society) edition by Doerffel 1879 (right)

 

 

The earliest printed edition by Janet de Cotelle c 1825 however shows a start with four 1/16 slurred. We find this bowing also in manuscript "D".
I assume this bowing is not the original one, as it hasn't been taken up by anyone except the first French edition.
It is however interesting, especially in comparison to the manuscript by Anna Magdalena.
This bowing puts the beginning of the bar on down bow, the repeated phrase in the second half of the bar on up bow.
Naturally the repeated phrase in the second half of the bar in up bow will sound softer, bringing out the change of harmonies, which always occur in the first half of the bar.
Although technically more awkward, this bowing sounds more musical, avoids the rattling down of repetitions without dynamic change, as people would do when they first play it through.
I assume this bowing goes back to a correction - and as we will see perhaps by Bach himself - who might have thought he is getting tired of hearing the beginning of the Suite in a way he hoped it wouldn't sound.
As mentioned, interestingly enough the first 4 bars of Anna Magdalena's manuscript set the beginning of the second half of the bar in up bow -
( the modern-bow Hugo Becker edition also slurs all eight 1/16; this might be part of the attraction of Becker's bowing).


Janet de Cotelle (left) / manuscript "D" (right) - in bar 3 he added one slur too much; during his time "whiteout" did not exist. A mistake remained a mistake unless blacked out.

The manuscript by Anna Magdalena Bach.
Anna Magdalena's manuscript shows in the first 4 bars different bowings to all other editions. Just out of interest I performed the Prelude a few times with this bowing.
It is awkward, seems to go against a natural feeling of flow, especially in bar 2 and 3, but it brings effortlessly some dynamic elements out:
The first 2 notes are separated. This gives us the opportunity to lengthen the first note as much as we like without experiencing a shortage of bow, which encourages to play out the introductory G - we know this introductory statement of the G by Pablo Casals although he used often the Hugo Becker bowing.
In bar 2 and 3 only the first note is single followed by a slur of two. This takes the emphasis away from the top melody and gives altogether a somewhat weaker feeling as if bar 2 and 3 are meant piano.
The bowing of only two 1/16 slurred (instead of 3) has another side effect: when we play a down bow on the first beat, we will end up with an up bow on the third beat.
This lets us naturally play the second part of the bar even softer, pianissimo - the repetition of the first half, creating an echo like effect as Baroque performers would have played the repetition of a phrase.
We come now to bar 4, which for the first time has the first 3 notes slurred.
This has an interesting effect: even without intending to play dynamic differences, this bowing emphasizes bar 4, makes it sound fuller, quasi forte.
This would mean that from the perspective of intensity we have bar one standing there with the fully expressed first note G, the key note, followed by a standing back bar 2 and 3 in piano, followed by bar 4, fuller sounding than all bars before.
Could this be intended? Looking at the harmonic structure it makes sense:
Bar one states the tonic G major, bar 2 leads us to the subdominant, bar 3 to the dominant and bar 4 arrives again at the tonic - with the open G always kept as a pedal point.
I call the introductory cadence "the city circle" after our underground train - before you can travel to an individual destination you have to go through the circle of the home cadence.
Quite literally Bach does the same in the first Prelude of the "Well tempered Clavier".
Anna Magdalena's bowing is different than all the others, but it is musically so convincing, that we can't discard it as a mistake or one of her misunderstandings of the bowing technique of string players.
It is also very accurate written, with a precision as if being very aware of every slur drawn.

Why would Anna Magdalena's manuscript be different than all the others?
We know, manuscript "B" is older, and starts with 3 notes slurred.
We assume Bach's manuscript had the first three 1/16 slurred, as all early copies and prints show the same bowing (except manuscript D and Janet de Cotelle).
I can't imagine Anna Magdalena would have changed bowings without an authority to do so.
So I can only imagine that Bach himself contributed to this new and unusual bowing.
Anna Magdalena's copy is written quite some years after Bach's original, and copies existed already, and he had heard the result of his bowings - and Bach seemed to be not happy.
He put forward a new idea avoiding a thoughtless sight reading; he confronted the player with a bowing you have to read careful and dynamic structures, which followed naturally when you just followed the bowing.
I assume manuscript "D" is an easier variety of this new idea, also dated later, starting with 4 notes slurred and putting therefore the second half of the bar starting with up bow, softer than the first half.


Anna Magdalena's manuscript (left) / Gruemmer's print of Anna Magdalena's edition (right)

The change of the construction of the bow by Tourte from a Baroque bow to our bow today, which gradually came into fashion between 1800 - 1820, encouraged the idea of longer slurs.
The first addition of slurs was introduced by Gruetzmacher, modified by Casals into a more even division, easier for today's bow, then extended to virtually a love affair with slurs, slurring everything as much as possible by Hugo Becker.
Today most players use his edition and the sound of slurs is for most players today the predominant sound character of the Prelude of Suite No 1.
(We find the identical dynamic instructions in both editions, Gruetzmacher and his student Becker)


The first Gruetzmacher edition 1866 (left) / in my handwriting underneath the Casals bowing / (right) The Hugo Becker edition 1911 by Peters, IMC and others.
We can see in the Gruetzmacher edition for the first time larger bow divisions, a preparing step to the Casals edition and finally 8 slurred by Becker.

Well, how should we play the start of the Prelude, given all these options?
The answer is, the choice of bowing is really not essentially the most important thing, but once we choose to start with a bowing, we need to be consistent, that it doesn't end up unclear and messy.
Bowing has a lot to do with comfort, a personal taste and also the response of our particular instrument.
The essence of an interpretation lies rather in the understanding of the composition and bringing out a concept so that the listener can hear it with clarity.
Where do we find the concept?
I recommend playing through the different editions. Each edition will bring out different qualities.
For me playing through the bowing of Anna Magdalena / Gruemmer was the most enlightening one:
Without even trying the start of bar 1 will be strong. Each first half of a bar will be stronger than the second half - the second half is a bit like an echo;
from a performers point of view: what has already been said doesn't need to be trumpeted out again.
What's new is always more interesting; from a Baroque performers point of view: the literal repeat of a phrase is always played softer - exactly the same thing.
In bar the arpeggio sounds full, forte, leading over after the introductory cadence to the now starting individual development of the movement.
Every interpretation should and can have this dynamic development, independent of the choice of bowing.
The somewhat sudden step to the forte in bar 4 is known as "step dynamic" a frequent feature in Baroque music.
Instead of a gradual crescendo (as recommended by Becker) the dynamic change happens rather sudden, in steps (These "steps" occur naturally on the organ or the harpsichord, which can not play crescendos).
Exactly the same step happens in bar 18 using the same change of bowing pattern.
We come to the conclusion that Becker's dynamics are rather out of style for Bach.

Although most historians believe that Anna Magdalena is the most reliable source as she must have copied straight from the original of her husband
(Bettina Schwemer, editor of the Baerenreiter edition recommends to follow Anna Magdalena just because of this reason) no edition except Gruemmer/Doblinger bothers about her bowing.
The Kurtz edition even shows the manuscript on the right side and without any apology shows on the left side unrelated bowings without explanation.
Why does practically no one follows Anna Magdalena? Firstly it seems that tradition counts. Once people are used to something, they don't want to give it up (see also bar 26).
Secondly when a majority of editions show the same bowing - 3 slurred - editors seem to find it hard to break the tradition.
Anna Magdalena is the only one with her bowings, they are unique.
For me they are on one hand very interesting and worth to play - as they seem to be guided by Johann Sebastian who improved the other common (his older?) version.
The person who recommended her bowings knew string playing in and out, it was not Anna Magdalena's ideas, as she did not know much about strings.
And this is probably the reason her copy is not taken serious enough.
String players think in the narrow logic of up and down. They can't escape, it is one of the most essential part of their technical thinking.
This thinking is ingrained and is the result of learning and playing. Anna Magdalena offends the rules of a string player too often.
As a singer she thinks in phrases, and if a phrase - marked 3 slurs - seem to sound nicer with 4, she writes 4, although the whole bow direction is messed up.
We also must not forget, that she did this work often after she had put to bed a part of 21 of Bach's children. I have not met many mothers who would have been able to do accurate work after having finished such duties!
Bettina Schwemer interestingly enough compares Anna Magdalena's copy of the violin Sonatas & Partitas to Bach's original, which we have today.
There are lots of misunderstandings and inaccuracies and I personally don't understand the recommendation to regard her bowings as the prime source of understanding -
because obviously she did not understand them, as interesting as the corrected passages are.
I feel we need to understand her copy as a duty or friendship copy for some one, but not a copy of an alert enthusiast, who is an experienced string player, as the author of manuscript "C" seems to have been.

As a summary it seems Johann Sebastian interfered only in some sections. These sections stand out as being firstly different than the other manuscripts and secondly as being marked by a capable string player.
As if they talked about the copy when Anna Magdalena wrote it out and he mentioned his new ideas.
He must have stood beside her and explained exactly what he meant as these new ideas stand out as correctly marked.
On the other hand the copy is on one hand clear - she had a very good handwriting, similar to Johann Sebastian - but she obviously did not understand the bowings and often they don't make sense.
A combination of manuscript "C" and her new ideas might come closest to the original and includes Bach's "revised edition" of bowings.

Bar 5 - 12

In general the melodic bars - expressed in parts of scales wandering up and down bringing new material - should come out, where as the arpeggio bars just state at the beginning the new harmony and should then fade towards the second half of the bar.

Bar 13 / 14

Anna Magdalena and some other editions show 4 slurred plus 4 detached.
By playing 4 notes slurred we arrive closer to the tip and remain there ready for enough space to go back for another slur.
This bowing restricts therefore the volume in the detached notes and also has no accent in the middle of the bar.
These two details mark this section as to be played piano before bringing out again the melodic scales in bar 14.
See below in the next boxes this section: (left) 2nd bar / (right) first bar. Both show the bowing 4 slurred / 4 detached.

Bar 15 - 19

Starting bar 15 we enter a section of chords in narrow position only widening at the D7 chord in bar 18 (with suspended G pedal). Anna Magdalena states a bowing of a single note on 1 then 3 slurred.
The short note on 1 does not give much space for the 3 slurred notes of the chord.
This bowing marks again this section as to be played in piano. The 3 slurred in bar 18 bring again the dynamic out as in bar 4, to step up to forte, to be continued in the tonic in bar 19.
Many editions show the bowing as in manuscript "C" (who seems to be close to the first original of Bach, later corrected in Anna Magdalena's version).
Which ever bowing we choose, we should take the practical guide by Anna Magdalena and play bar 15-17 piano and step up to a forte in bar 18/19.


(Left) Anna Magdalena's bowing 1 plus 3 slurred / (right) 3 plus 1 slurred in manuscript "C"

B or Bb in bar 26

I am frequently criticized playing a wrong note in bar 26 of the Prelude.
The truth is, all 4 early manuscripts wrote in the 3rd beat of bar 26: C# B A Bb. However, the first printed edition made a mistake and printed: C# Bb A Bb.
Although the early manuscripts have been published for more than 30 years, Anna Magdalena's as early as 1929, the majority of editions still print the mistake.

Correct (Baerenreiter Urtext):     - Incorrect (Becker, current edition):     

After having said that, it is surprising that the first 2 editions - by Janet de Cotelle and Dotzauer - printed likely without connection with each other - both wrote Bb!
This makes me wonder if one of the early copiers - an enthusiast, whose copies have been lost - had put out multiple copies with Bb. Why would otherwise the very first copies do the same mistake although all manuscripts wrote the note different?



The original version are only in the new Schwemer/Baerenreiter, Kurtz/IMC and the old Hausmann edition from 1898 (in the Hausmann edition with Petrucci the owner of the copy "corrected" the correct B to a Bb by hand!).
Virtually all other editions print the mistake.
Surprisingly already Pablo Casals played B, and so does Tortellier, who frequently played with Casals together.
This makes me wonder: How did Casals know? Before photocopying and internet existed, the only option to know was to visit the museum, where the original was kept.
Did Casals have such a clear memory, that he kept after visiting the museum all single differing notes in mind?
Most performers to today including Rostropovich, YoYo Ma, Maisky nevertheless play Bb.

Bar 31 - 36

The melody happens on the D string always alternating with an open A until the mostly chromatic rise reaches the A string and alternates with the open D (nearly every student loves this section and starts to run).
All originals show separate bowings, no slur of 2 notes. I find in this section the difference of the Baroque bow and our bow shows most. Our bow today tends to have sharp, sudden beginnings of the note.
When we play separate bows it can easily sound like a study, the following A does not melt together with the note on the D string - or in the last bar the note on the A string does not melt together with the D.
Because it is though the original bowing - and if we wish to play it faithfully like that - the best technique is: In our mind we neglect the open string.
We play the melody note and go only physically with the bow back in order to be able the next note, but neglect strength and attention for the open string.
If we play two notes slurred, we need to play both strings close together. Many cellists have learned that all strings have their "level", a medium level of the string.
But these levels are too far apart for a smooth fast transition and In this case it will sound like an unmusical study. As an exercise we might play both strings - A and D - together.
Then we play them alternating, but we move the bow level only that little bit away from the other string, that we just have only one string. This movement should also be slow flowing and gradual.
We should not do it with the wrist, as the bow angle would change, the amount of hair used change dramatically and cause an uneven sound. We can watch that.
Many students have problems with the left hand, because they touch with their finger on the D string the A open string and stop the sound (lifting the left arm does not help, it can even flatten the fingers; only what the very first limb of the fingers does makes a difference).
There is a trick. Firstly we need not to take our fingers up and down, but the melody on the D string should not have gaps by lifting the fingers off for the alternating A (except for the open D string as a melody note).
Because this is difficult to do I place my fingers not on the string, but just beside the D string towards the G string on the fingerboard. This will still give us enough pressure for a clear sound.
More so it lifts the level of the D string minutely and enables a continuous vibration of A and D string, which fills the room like an organ.

Intonation of the last 2 chords, bar 41/42

We always imagine that each finger will be placed on exactly the same spot on each string if we are in the same position. This is actually incorrect.
It depends, which harmonies we play.
On the string instrument we don't play the welltempered average of intonation, but much finer nuances.
In bar 41 we need to place the 3rd finger as high as touching the fourth finger, as it is the leading note.
In bar 42 we need to have a gap between 3 and 4, because the natural 3rd in a major chord is lower than the third note of the scale before the fourth!

Playing the arpeggios (either just 3 slurred or the Hugo Becker slur of 8)

An arpeggio is a unit of a triad here expressed in a slur to create the round sound of the notes together, not a melody of single notes. If played well the G should continue to sound when we reach the A string.
Technically we do that by playing the 3 strings like one unit, one long movement from bottom to top string without noticeable steps and not stopping to move for the D string in the middle.
I call it playing the bow around one big pipe instead of 3 strings.
The effect is, that when starting to touch the new string, the old string is still touched - we allow double stops. The effect of that is that leaving the old string is so gradually that the bow does not stop it from vibrating.
If we move jerky, as in steps, the jerk from the G to the D string will stop the G string from vibrating and the whole meaning of the slur is lost.
Also the sudden move attacks the new string like an accent, disrupting the unit of the arpeggio.
This technique feels like swimming from string to string; any edginess of the movement is avoided and we achieve this round sound.

The structure of the Prelude

All 4 Preludes of the cello suites in a major key, Suite 1, 3, 4 & 6 are basically based on arpeggios / triads and scales, where as the Preludes of the minor suites, Suite 2 & 5 include many more individual melodies and themes.
Suite 1 starts with repeated arpeggios shifting bar by bar alternating with scale like runs virtually without note jumps. The runs stand out as more interesting where as the arpeggios have their interest in larger structured shifts.
The second half of the Prelude is remarkably different as it has hardly any arpeggios until at the end the beginning is somewhat recalled.
Interpretation the first parts it feels like blocks in which the dynamic does not change much, as mentioned before: step dynamic.
In the second part however we have declining scales, which should decline each from top to bottom dynamically.
Following the climbing melody the dynamic should also rise to the harmonic D, the highest note and dynamic climax, from where the melody winds until the chromatic scale rises up. Naturally this scale should start piano and rise dynamically.
We should though be cautious not to rise to a fortissimo as it takes away from developing to the end.
Also the end chord sounds more beautiful, if we don't crush the chord down, but allow the last top double notes to sound out free.

For More on the structure and also a harmonic analysis click here:

 

 

Summary of the "hidden scales" in the 2nd part of the Prelude and their implied dynamic:

The circled notes in bar 23 crescendo to the ONE in bar 24, the following 2 circles indicate a diminuendo.
Bar 26, 27 - the circled notes indicate a diminuendo.
Bar 29 starts with a convincing "C", followed by a diminuendo to bar 31, where a new line starts from the D.
The movement is interrupted by a repeated sequence (2nd & 3rd beat of bar 32); we have here statement, echo & reinforcement.
Bar 33 starts a scale in G major, from D to C ( as D7) but actually continuing to the D - from where a repeated sequence (see bracket) in half bars (including the D pedal point) leads gradually down.
I recommend to support the sequence with a sequential fingering; it helps the memory and brings more clarity of playing.
Having arrived in piano, a chromatic scale up indicates the last great crescendo before remaining in a full sound indicated by the width of the chord and the minimal up and down movement.

Dynamic Mapping: Hidden and open Scales in Part 2 (indicated in red). [print: Doerffel 1879]
If played well, the listener can easily follow the indicated "hidden scales".

And here is a recording of Dotzauer's first edition of Prelude No 1, 1826.



One last word to the Prelude No 1.
Often Bach's compositions are fairly complex, one needs to play them often until all the ins and outs of the winding counterpoints have been discovered.
This Prelude is different. It is simple and straightforward.
In comparing all Suites and also the Sonatas and Partitas for violin, it is the most simple structured movement of all.
For me the complexity grows starting from this Prelude. Suite 6 is the most complex cello Suite and on average the violin Sonatas and Partitas are on a level of complexity like cello Suites 4 to 6.
Might it have been, that Bach had played this Prelude for a long time, whenever he had a try on the cello - the arpeggios are so simple, when you can play the viola well, you can manage to play them OK on the cello.
Then follows this section, where a typical try out (muck around) player goes with a few fingers up and down and alternates the notes with the next open string, sounds lovely.
This section is followed by - to do it amateurish - moving one finger chromatically up and having fun, resolving again in simple arpeggios.
I just can imagine Bach having fun playing the cello with terrible fingerings often parts of this Prelude or similar sequences until he had the idea to write down the try outs finishing them off to a proper piece.
Once this had been done and was naturally called Prelude, a Suite developed on the desk - how much more complex is the Allemande. Compared to the just fun Prelude it is a highly intellectual piece.
I imagine from there on the idea to write 2 x 6 sets of Suites / Partitas / Sonatas might have evolved - since the history is unknown one thinks about how these particular compositions came into being.

DONATION: A contribution to this project would be appreciated.

ALLEMANDE (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Allemandes are in 4/4 with up beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent.
The THIRD beat is felt strong, but is commonly a soft ending, whereas strong endings are on One or also on FOUR.
The soft THREE is strong felt, but little heard.
If the ending is on FOUR, the THIRD beat gains some heaviness.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

The Allemande is a stately dance and should never rush. It stands in contrast to the fast Courante.
In order to capture the character the rhythm needs to be secure.
When learning rhythm and speed come naturally by feeling 1/8 (quavers) for the first bar, making sure the tie is held long enough and then gaining a feeling of flow.

In Anna Magdalena's manuscript we see the layout of bowings in bar 1 only and afterwards sporadically (see below).
It was quite common to expose bowing and articulation at the beginning of a piece, assuming the player understands that similar passages follow the same pattern.
Changing the character would need to be emphasized by noting the new bowing if it contradicts the former pattern.
Exactly this she does in bar 3: This time the slur should include the first 1/16 of the second beat (the slur is probably meant for three 1/16).


Allemande - Manuscript by Anna Magdalena: the layout is shown as an example in bar 1, to be followed "simile". Bar 2 has missing any slurs (the little bow in bar 2 belongs to the movement above).

A different bowing is proposed in manuscript "C" including longer slurs.
Interesting too are in line 2, second bar, the first 2 beats, emphasizing the end of the slur of 3 and separation for the last 1/16 of the beat.


Allemande - manuscript "C". I added an extension of the slurs, which is often used for our bow today.

Generally we have the option of slurring either 2 detached plus three 1/16 notes or slurring all five 1/16, which sounds smoother.
(I tend to workout a pattern, which I use for the movement. In my interpretation I slur firstly 5 and in the repeat I play 2 detached plus 3 slurred)
If confronted with a new piece, a listener would never perceive or comprehend constant changes and hear the reason why.
Clarity is one of the main ingredients for the beauty of a performance. Therefore we should work out a pattern.

 

 


COURANTE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

Courante's are in 3/4 (except 3/2 in Suite 5).
They all start with an up beat.
All three beats can be felt distinctly.
The main accent is on ONE.
TWO and THREE have a minor accent, of which THREE is slightly stronger.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

Although the Courante is quite fast, it is a dance and should convey the lightness of a dance.
As described by Mattheson the character of the Courante expresses "sweet hopefulness, something of the longing, something of the cheerful in the melody."

This Courante combines in the single line cello part melody and accompaniment.
It starts with 2 G's followed by the accompanying bass line D-G (see below the noted in brackets).
In the interpretation the bass needs to sound like a left hand accompaniment in a piano part:
short and light, whereas the first 2 G's are equally strong melody notes and the melody should continue with the same strength with the slur of six 1/16, followed again by the accompaniment figure D-G.
It is important that we not only understand the two parts intellectually, but that a listener and we can hear the structure - like a cello Duo.

In this Courante we find often repeated phrases, introduced in the first beat, repeated on the second beat from where on the third beat is a transition to the same pattern in the following bar.
It was common in Baroque times to play the repetition of a phrase softer.

When expressing a phrase like the melody on the A string in bar 1, the contemporary Baroque way is technically not to push more on the bow for increased dynamic but use a faster speed for the climax of the phrase, here the D.

Many players prefer in the left hand to play phrases in the 3rd position instead of using string crossings.
I personally prefer using the string crossings from D to A; we assume today that the Baroque players used to allow open strings and preferred the first position.
Also, we play the first slur on the A string anyway and I feel, the sound of the A string asks to be taken up in the next corresponding phrases. The 3rd position on the D string would sound more muffled compared to the straight speaking A string.

The Courante is quite straightforward considering the bowings. The different editions rather show what the editor finds more comfortable, but musically they remain quite the same.
I found by surprise my very personal bowings in the edition by Werner Icking - exactly my bowings!
Below is a link to his edition of the 6 Suites.

Courante - manuscript "C". The "left hand" accompanying figure is in brackets /
bar 1 the climax of the phrase is expressed with higher bow speed /
bar 5 the repetitive figure is played softer.



 

 

 

SARABANDE (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Sarabande's are in 3.
All Sarabande's start on the first beat.
The Sarabande has two main accents, on ONE and on TWO.
Both accents are even; in some Sarabande's the ONE is stronger, in others the TWO.
A good indicator is the use of duoble/triple stops on the strong accent.
The THIRD beat has no accent.
Micro-dynamic units are one bar and sometimes 2 bars.

The Sarabande is a slow dance with an accent on beat 1 and 2.
We can see that consequently in this Sarabande more chords are on the 2nd beat than on the 1st.
I start the Sarabande on an up bow to give the 2nd beat the fullness of its importance.
I play virtually literally the bowings from manuscript "C", complimented by some slurs, which are recommended at the comparative places and can be transferred to similar locations as this was common.
(I added brackets to show where they compare to and circled the added ornaments).
It is shown here manuscript "C", which was written at a time where adding free ornaments became replaced with playing literally what was printed.
Luckily it means for us, that "C" had in mind how the ornaments were still played in his time and wrote them in for the next generation to make sure they didn't leave them out.
We today still belong to this next generation glued to the music with a certain fear of taking too much freedom (except a recent fashion to jump into an unfamiliar freedom and like being lost giving up rhythm and clarity of structure, a modern romantic idea of Baroque).


Sarabande G major by manuscript "C". I circled the added ornaments in manuscript C (Bowings complimented, with arrows where the phrasing is taken from).

If we decide to play the ornaments, we will discover an interesting structure of these, implying also certain dynamics:
The ornaments appear in pairs, units of 2 bars, the first of which is only a suspended grace note, which corresponds in the following bar with a trill;
phrase1 - 2 Bar Unit - In bar 1 the B from the first chord is suspended over to the next chord, to be resolved to the C.
In bar 2 the answer is to go the opposite way, the last note C from beat 1 is suspended to the chord of the second beat, but this time strengthened in intensity by the trill.
phrase 2 - 2 Bar Unit - In bar 3 the F from beat 1 is suspended into the second beat, declining to the E.
In bar 4 the G is suspended as the beginning of the trill from G to F#, a tone higher and intensified by the trill, an expression for increase, and should also be expressed dynamically;
phrase 3 - 2 Bar Unit - In bar 5 the C from beat 1 is suspended into the second beat, declining to B.
In bar 6 the D is suspended as the beginning of the trill from D to C#, a tone higher again and intensified by the trill, an expression for increase.
Last unit of part one: Corresponding to the first unit the last trill from C# to D is answered in reverse: a grace note from C# to D, corresponding bar 1 and 2.
So we find altogether after the statement of corresponding semi tone movements up and down in bar 1 and 2 a sister unit in bar 7 and 8, which frames two units, which both build up dynamically with the finish on the strong second beat of the last bar, ending in a decline on the weak 3rd beat.

In bar 1 & 2 we find also an interesting middle part, which unfortunately is usually played in a way and it remains unnoticed.
We concentrate here on the first 3 notes only, as once introduced, the listener starts to understand (and the player hopefully too).
The middle D rises to E and then to F# in bar 2. Then follows a (low) G with a negligible D in the middle for the convenience of cellists, but then the part continues with F to E and continues as a lower melody.
In our aim to interpret - which means translating, here in music without using words - we need to explain all parts to the listener, so they can follow - without using words.
So we need to look for methods to explain very clearly and trying to understand the psychology of the perception of a listener.
The guided listener can follow, what is related in the similarity in character.
In this case we find in the middle part 3 note values, first a 1/4, then a 1/2 and last a 1/16. In order to relate them to each other we need to play all 3 of them as 1/16!
Most cellists let go of the bass note to keep the middle note, as they say, to hold notes to their full value. But they don't.
They declare themselves technically defeated and keep the middle note, because they can't keep the bass note.
Not only is this unfair to the bass note, it also is empty of any musical understanding.
If we look at the history, why all notes of a triple stop are written to a full value, then we come to compositions for voices or instruments, which can easily play many parts, like the organ.
The tradition to write all parts to a value so they independently make up the measure of a full bar, has its reason, that the composer should always be aware, that there is no involuntary gap, where a beat is missing.
Each part needs to be followed with no beat missing.
Well, cellists have to miss at least one of 3 or 4 notes written in a chord, when it is held longer.
Our decision, which one to hold should be a musical one, not be based on technical insufficiency.
If we decide to play all 3 notes as 1/16, the listener is guided from one similar note to the next.
The middle part becomes obvious and this clarity contributes to the beauty of the piece.
Often these beginnings sounds muddy, lack clarity. The reason is the bureaucratic attitude to literally play one note after the other to full length as possible,
not thinking about our technical shortcomings and not daring to think musically.
But is it not our duty to explain the music without words? This changes how we see the relation between the notes.
To compare with other instruments, we shouldn't forget, that on the piano every note declines, and a long note can often not last although it's written, even if the finger is held down with best intention.

Typical for Suite 1 is also the beginning of the last 4 bar unit, bar 13: the bass note B is dissolved to C, but an octave lower.
We find in the earlier Suites 1 - 3, that Bach chose whenever possible an open string in double stops for the cellist; even if the rise of the leading would have required to go up, he went down a seventh. He certainly would never have done that in a Choral.
I feel he didn't trust the intonation of the cellists in double stops and preferred to offer them open string, sacrificing the elegance of the melodic line in the bass.

 

 


The MENUET'S
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Menuet's are in 3/4 and start on the first beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent, is often missing, the end of a phrase, transitional or an accompaniment note.
The THIRD beat has an extra step (a minute one, therefore: MINUeT). It can be felt and heard, but the character is usually short.
Micro-dynamic units are usually 2 bars, but sometimes 1 bar or even 4 bars in the first part of Menuet 1 of Suite 1.
Sometimes 2 bars together form a unit as of 3/2 instead of 6/4.

MENUET 1

To the bowing options:
In the two manuscripts below we have virtually the common choices of bowings represented.
First, to the left copy by Anna Magdalena:
The first two 1/8 are slurred (except probably forgotten in bar 1), not continued to the 1/4.
It is possible, that Anna Magdalena meant to slur in the 3rd beat only the two 1/16, not together with the 1/8. It remains unclear.
In bar 2, 3 etc are always two 1/8 slurred (the trill is written, but above the limit of the print)

To the right copy, manuscript "C":
Bar 1 is not clear, but in bar 5 and 9 (after the repeat mark, we can see, that the slur is meant for the first 3 notes, actually reminding of the Prelude.
In bar 2, 3, 5, 10 the first three 1/8 are slurred, giving the movement a different character.
Also beat 3 in bar 1 and 5 are one slur.

Throughout all editions we can find the choice of these two bowings.
Quite some editions even combine the bowings - bar 2: 3 times 2 slurred, bar 3 the first 3 notes slurred.


Menuet I - (Left) Anna Magdalena's manuscript / (right) manuscript "C". See the different bowing options of bar 2 and 3.


As to the dynamics:
In the Menuet the strong beat is the first, the second beat is weak, the 3rd beat has some emphasis.
The first 8 bars are divided into 2 x 4 bars, the second set starting one note higher than the first set.
We find here a step dynamic of 2 steps, 4 + 4 bars.
The second set sitting one note higher and louder than the first set.
Within the 4 bars we have an independent phrasing.
The strong accent is only on the first bar of 4, followed by a little leaning on the beat during the 2/8 movement and ending in the first set in bar 4 on the chord on the first beat.

To bar 4:
I feel it suits the melody line to follow from the D of bar 3 with a C suspension at the beginning of the trill starting on the upper note, descending to the B, followed by the A on beat 3, a little scale in countermovement to the bass (most editions have a marked trill on the chord on the first beat of bar 4).

As to the last 2 notes before the repeat mark in bar 8, A and D:
A piano player would play them in the left hand as accompaniment, holding in the right the melody note D down:
We should play these 2 notes soft, as an accompaniment, not bounce them out.
The last melody note is the open G, also emphasized as the first beat.

Bar 17 - 24
We find in the bass line a map of what to do with dynamics:
The preceding descending notes of a scale leads us to start soft.
Then a rising scale movement starts with a B.
A "macro-dynamic" hidden scale is circled and compasses virtually the complete 2nd half of the second part of Menuet 1.
The (circled) scale rises from B, C#, D, to E and fulfills our need to be completed in the mention of bar 23.
Asin some faster movements the first and second unit are 2 bars.
The first beat of bar 1 nd 3 carry the big accent.
Within both units the first 2 beats are a chord, in which beat 2 disappears in the arpeggio and beat 3 has a minor accent.
The first beat of bar 2 and 4 (18 and 20) have a bit of an accent, but are a secondary bar unit compared to bar 17 and 19;
again the second beat is negligible, and beat 3 has some little accent.
The units of both bars are set in steps, the second step in the "macro-dynamic" determined by the "hidden scale" is one step stronger;
bar 21 and 22 are even in rhythmical dynamic, but gain set in rising steps.
The reader might remember, endnotes are held back.


The dynamic map of bar 17 - 24 in the bass line as explained above (circled by me).

Technical hints:
Although the first 2 bars of the example are soft, they contain within the 2 bars a lively dynamic phrasing.
The first notes need an accent.
Instead of pushing the bow, we should play the accent with swift speed, slowing down to the second beat.
In bar 2 we should play the last 3 separated notes short without an attempt to go back to the nut.
Instead we play the last note B normally short and after having done so, we swiftly move in the air the bow back to the nut ready for the next accent with lots of bow.
We repeat this movement each time for the down bow accent on the first beat.
The only bar, which is strong for the last detached 3/8 is bar 23. This makes the climax standing out.
We can see the growing intensity of the crescendo by the acceleration of the rising of the scale:
Smaller and slower steps for the first 2 x 2 bars, then a stronger crescendo, symbolized by the smaller distance of the rise of the hidden scale of only one bar.
The last bar drops back again.

A comment should be made to the 3rd last bar of Menuet I.
In Rostropovich's recording we can hear an unfamiliar repeat of 2 D's - last 1/8 of bar 22 / first 1/8 of bar 23.
The reason is, Anna Magdalena forgot to write in the leger line for the E - she forgot.
The editor Kurtz thought he made a historical discovery in the Menuet that the E is actually a D.
I wish though both Rostropovich and Kurtz would have given the decision a glance more and compared with the other sources:
Firstly, all other manuscripts write as the last note of bar 22 an E.
And Anna Magdalena - THE source for the change - writes this E actually higher up - making it is easy for us today to see she just forgot to draw the leger line - and didn't mean to write a D (it doesn't sound well either).


(left) Anna Magdalena's "D?(E) - D with forgotten leger line & (right) E - D in Manuscript C .


MENUET 2

Most cellists play the beginning of Menuet 2 on the D string to bring out the softer character of the minor key.
Another good idea is to play the 2nd occurrence of the theme in bar 5 softer and prepare it with a little slow down in the bar before.

All manuscripts without exception indicate no natural for the E in bar 3, but add it in bar 7.
Therefore quite some interpreters assume, that in bar 3 the E should rather be Eb - and in fact it sounds convincing - but no one can prove either way is right or wrong.

Also, many Menuets in the minor key of the Baroque period have a base line with a descending Phrygian scale, as here bar by bar: G - F - Eb - D, if we go for the Eb option.
For me the first part has certainly a Phrygian feel (see also my accompaniment).
The other minor Menuet of the cello Suites, Menuet 1 of Suite 2, starts also with a descending Phrygian scale in the bass, bar by bar.


Manuscript "C" - Menuet II
- Note the descending Phrygian scale in the bass, if we read Eb.

In the second part of Menuet 2, the bass notes lead the way to the dynamic map:
D in the first 2 bar phrase, leading up to C for the next 2 bar phrase.
then rising to D and Eb to end 2 bars later on the Bb - end of section.
From here a pair of bars starting B and Eb descends to the pair A and D.
The last 4 bars F# - Bb to C - D, ending in G.

An interesting detail:
Both second parts of the Menuets start D F# A and also finish D F# G, creating not only a bridge to the repeats, but also a familiar framework for the whole unit of the 2 Menuets.

 

 


Mertens - Accompaniment to Menuet I & II of Suite 1 (2nd cello)

I had a student who was too shy to ever play by herself. I ended up writing accompaniments to all pieces as I couldn't hear her when we played the same part.
This is an accompaniment to the Menuets and it is just nice to play together. I used the ideas later for my guitar transcription of the Menuets (see left column).

 

 


GIGUE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Gigue's start with 1/8 upbeat.
The time signatures of the Gigue's are the most diverse ones.
The basic unit is a 3/8.
Suite 2,3 and 5 are in 3/8.
The accents are on ONE and a smaller one on THREE.
But we mainly feel in the Gigue the pulse of the 3/8 unit as one beat (we could not tap our foot continuously 3 times per bar).
Very commonly micro-dynamic unit compasses 2 bars, of which the first bar is stronger with a strong ONE;
in the second bar we feel the accent, but it is heard as a soft note.

Suite 1 and 6 are written in 6/8.
In Suite 1 we find a rare accentuation on the 2nd/8 (and the 5th).

Like the Prelude, the beginning of the Gigue is controversial in the bowings.
Here the different bowings give a completely different character to the piece.
If we first look at Anna Magdalena's writing, it is not clear if she means to slur 3 or just the last 2 of 3.
All editions have in common bar 2, 6 separate staccato strokes.
In bar 9/10 the bowings seems to change to a slur of 2 plus a single note.
Most prints agree in this section to this bowing.
Manuscript "D" writes very clearly: first 1/8 a short stroke followed by a slur of 2.
Bar 5 seems to have slurs of 3, but gradually they shift rather to the right (whereas in bar 9/10 three notes are slurred; also, some prints decided for this reading.

As mentioned in the section "THE BOWINGS" copiers write first the notes, then their hand goes back to mark the bowings.
When writing fast, these markings tend to shift to the right.
Both Cotelle and Dotzauer mark in bar one a syncopation, tying the 3rd and 4th 1/8 together (see below Cotelle's print).
None of the known 18th century manuscripts show this bowing (or: this rhythm).
I can only imagine that a very enthusiastic copier distributed multiple copies with this mistake, maybe copied from a manuscript already with a right shift.
This would explain why both in France and Germany this mistaken bowing came about.

I heard this rhythm first in Pablo Casals' recording. His copy was the Cotelle print.
When I asked around about the strange rhythm having never heard of Cotelle I was told: Yes, that is the original bowing.
Today I find this statement very interesting.
A performer like Casals plays with such persuasion and expression, that it just sounds right as if it is meant to be.
Even mistakes are put musically so brilliantly in context, that we are convinced it is original.

(I need to mention, that it is difficult to make this bowing sound unforced and Gigue-like dancing with our modern bow.
This might have contributed not to favour this option in print :
where as all manuscripts were written in the time of the Baroque bow, all prints appeared in the time of our modern bow.
For me the original bowing shows also, that the tempo was not too fast)

Looking at the 4 manuscripts, with a little bit of goodwill, we can say, in bar 1 the bowing of 1 single note plus 2 slurred was original.
However - with our bow today this bowing sounds edgy, the staccato dot makes the Gigue not flowing well.
With the Baroque bow however this separate note just gives a soft bounce on the first note, like a soft accent, contributing to a better flow.
I find slurring three 1/8 and using for the first more bow imitates the effect best with our bow today.

Also we should look at the unit of the first 4 bars, not only bar 1; the first 3 bars move towards the beginning of bar 4:
Bar 1 flows, bar 2 is like holding breath, bar 3 takes up the flow and prepares to the climax in bar 4, a wonderful built up, full of contrast but a unit.
With the syncopated rhythm no flow comes about in bar 1, then it stutters in bar 2, the slurs in bar 3 comes out of nowhere and the ending in bar 4 is unconvincing.
Casals solved the problem by playing the whole Gigue agitated; but taken the misprint away I believe he too would have played this Gigue differently.
I feel when we interpret, everything needs to make sense, like a painting, which is finished, no blotches, all sections finished to form a wholeness.
In the same way every note or phrase has a belonging, it is there at its spot with a reason to fit in and contribute to a line or a mingle of lines, which form a completeness, one of the most beautiful artworks ever created.


Gigue 1 (left) Anna Magdalena's copy / (right) manuscript "D".


First print by Cotelle (and also Dotzauer), misinterpreting the handwriting with the right shift: (left) the Gigue / (right) in comparison: bar 5 of the Menuet I and in bar 9 the correct bowing.

 

 

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_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Suite No. II

Key: D minor

Difficulty: The Suites is like Suite 3 ok for the moderate advanced player.,
Grade 6-8 out of 10

Character: Very lyrical, like a Romantic or impressionistic painting.
The Romantic element harbors a certain sadness, but the style is not heavy, like a sweetness of something lost.

 

PRELUDE

The Preludes in minor of the Cello Suites have more characteristic and individual motifs and melodies than the major ones, which consist basically of a web of arpeggios and scales.
In the Suite in D minor Bach returns in several movement to virtually a theme:
The beginning is a D minor chord, followed by an enlargement of the interval of fifth to a semitone lower, the C# and a semitone higher, the Bb, shaping a first inversion of the A major dominant 7(-9) chord.
The same "theme" we find in the Courante and the Gigue (the Gigue starts with the same notes as the Gigue of Suite 6).
A bit more hidden we find the same theme in the Allemande, but the units of the harmony shifts are half bars.

Dynamics and melody:
The melodic element leads many cellists to play especially here our Prelude in D minor in a Romantic way.
What I mean is, that the rhythmical element is placed second place in both accentuation and regularity.
Despite the freedom of a Prelude any Baroque piece should not miss a pulse nor should it miss an awareness of the first beat.
I went to cello master classes and read articles about the melody rising from the first beat to the higher note in the second beat.
Just out of interest I asked several pianists to play the first few bars on the piano:
Naturally they perceived the melody as starting from a heavy first beat and reaching the high note like a fading arpeggio on the second beat.
Cellists I find - once they have their bow in their hand - can be carried away with what they call "feeling".
Well, I find that pianists have feelings too. I also asked singers to sing the phrase, knowing when I hum it, I lean on the first beat, and their "feeling" confirmed my feeling:
The first beat has strength. It is out of style to raise the dynamic to the second beat. It definitely does not sound like Bach or any of his friends and relatives.
I penciled the crescendo marks of the Baroque dynamic in the first example.


Both examples are from the Gruemmer edition, who literally prints after Anna Magdalena's manuscript.
Left - my dynamics are penciled in.
Bowing: As at the beginning in bar 1 - 3 , the separated bowing continues in the following part from bar 13 - 15 on.
Complimented pencil bowings by me according to parallel phrases.

Bowings:
We can distinguish two general approaches to bowings:
The first one as here in Anna Magdalena / Gruemmer attempts to have every first beat on downbow, giving it heaviness.
Technically we need to be cautious in bar 2, that the 2 separated 1/16 bows are played with very little bow in order not to bounce out.
The element of 2 separated 1/16 reoccurs frequently in this movement.
The second bowing slurs in bar 2, 3 the first four 1/16 und in bar 3 also the sequence of the five 1/16.
This option is smoother. If we calculate the bowings well we will get many sets of 2 bars and every second bar will start with downbow, which suits the structural thinking of the movement as well.
Whichever way we decide, bar 1 - 3 should have basically the same bowing as bar 13 - 15, otherwise the movement jumps from one style to another.


The longer bowings as in Doerffel / Bachgesellschaft, bar 1 - 3 and also in bar 13 - 15. Strangely for Doerffel, none of the manuscripts suggest this bowing bar 13 - 15; systematic is here put before faithfulness.

Bar 26 - 29: the rising harmonic minor scale

Starting in bar 26, the bass notes on the 2nd and 3rd beat form a harmonic D minor scale (see below), starting from G and finishing also with G towards the ending in bar 30.
The in between short phrases describe always and up and following down movement, dynamically a swelling.
The underlying rising scale means, that the level of each swelling rises according to the position of the larger phrase - the spread out hidden scale in D minor.
In bar 30 we arrive on a pedal point of the dominant A, held for 6 bars, which holds the tension up to the D minor tonic in bar 36.
In the interpretation we should hear the rise from a piano G to the strong dominant in bar 30, keeping a tension until dissolved in bar 36.
From bar 37 - 39 we find a scale like decline of sequences, which should naturally be expressed in a step like diminuendo.


Prelude of Suite 2 (Werner Icking edition).
We can see the complete D - harmonic minor scale, stretching from G to g.
The finish is actually the following "A", which carries on for 6 bars as virtually an imaginary pedal point on the dominant until it dissolves in the tonic D minor chord in bar 35.
It sounds very convincing to play this section as a Duo, the second cello playing and holding just the bass notes including the 6 bar long pedal point of "A".

The set of the last 5 chords

There are many solutions of embellisments or arpeggios in print, although I have never found a well sounding one.
If we wish to embellish I find one would need to work out a really well sounding improvisation based on the harmonies given. The written out arpeggios as suggested everywhere sound like the piece has finished on the first note of the first chord and then the performer starts practicing.
The chords as such sound well if we give it some structure: preliminary final second last chord, dominant - comma - second inversion of D minor leading to the dominant with suspension D to C sharp - comma - final chord.

The last 5 chords - bowing suggestion

 

 

 

ALLEMANDE (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Allemandes are in 4/4 with up beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent.
The THIRD beat is felt strong, but is commonly a soft ending, whereas strong endings are on One or also on FOUR.
The soft THREE is strong felt, but little heard.
If the ending is on FOUR, the THIRD beat gains some heaviness.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

For me, this Allemande has the clearest part 1 - and the most confusing part 2.
Part 1 starts with an extraordinary statement of clear rhythm and melodies.
Technically, Anna Magdalena slurs 2/16 and so does manuscripts "C" in later parts, but slurs 4/16 in bar 1.
I prefer for today's bow a slur of 4/16, but accentuate the 1/8 rhythm within the one bow.
Which ever solution we prefer, the tempo needs to allow for a 1/8 feeling.
Allemandes were walking dances in a comfortable speed, never fast.

In bar 5 & 6 the opinions drift apart: some slur the last 3/16, others the first 3/16. Both options sound convincing.
Like often, a decision has to be made and followed through, but which decision we make, there is no more proof for one more than another.
We just need to play each option again and again and select our personal preference.


Allemande of Suite 2. bar 5 & 6, left manuscript C, right manuscript D. We can see the option of slurs 3 + 1 / 16 or 1 + 3 / 16.
Please note the confusion in C, who just kept going slurring (see above the chapter on "manuscripts": white out didn't exist and bowing mistakes were left in).

To bar 12, the last bar of part 1: In the actual dance the couple turned towards each other and bough at the end of a section.
The musical expression of the gesture is firstly, the harmonic development finishes on the first beat (here A major) and is followed just by a play on basically the same harmony.
For the interpretation it means, the bar includes a slow down and played not too strong, the pulse and drive of the dance is over.
The same scenario applies for the last bar of the Allemande, this time in D minor.

In difference to the rhythmically straight part 1, part 2 includes in all manuscripts these unusual slurs of 2/16 bridging over the natural accent, like the last 1/16 in bar 14 to the first 1/16 in bar 15.
Besides these slurs in seemingly not any regular order, the feeling of irregularity is also created by high melody notes at mainly unaccentuated locations.
To create any coherence we need to keep the tempo in limits and bring out the short developments and sequences as in bar 15 / 16.
What Bach certainly achieved is a strong contrast between part 1 and 2.

 

 



COURANTE
(click here for history / characteristics)


Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

Courante's are in 3/4 (except 3/2 in Suite 5).
They all start with an up beat.
All three beats can be felt distinctly.
The main accent is on ONE.
TWO and THREE have a minor accent, of which THREE is slightly stronger.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

As to the tempo of this movement I feel it is not that fast as often performed.
There are elements in the figures before several endings, which don't sound convincing, if the tempo is too fast.
This occurs in the lead ups to the first notes in bar 5, bar 6 and in the second part the lead ups to bar 21, especially 22 and also 24.
We also find a complexity in polyphony, which puts this Courante despite all the 1/16 into the category of the French Courante, which Mattheson described as:
"sweet hopefulness, something of the longing, something of the cheerful in the melody."
The character should be light and not too strict, a soft approach, not pushing through the endings mentioned here above, not rushed.

The Courante starts with the same harmonic pattern as the Prelude, the Allemande and the Gigue, like the introductory theme of the Suite.
I found a difficulty in this Courante to make decisions about the bowings as no manuscript shows consistency.
We may take either options offered in the manuscripts, but we need to put corresponding bowings into structurally corresponding bars.
I give here an example:


Courante of Suite 2 (Doerffel / Bach Gesellschaft) bar 4 - 11
I found the difficulty with this movement, that the bowings and patterns don't show a consistency we can easily follow.
In this Courante the consistency may sometimes only be a pattern of 2 bars, like here bar 4 & 5 or bar 8 and 10.
These musical and structural pairs of bars should have the same bowing pattern in order to keep some clarity.

In the 3 preceding bars of the endings in both parts we find a repetitive melody.
Here we have the option to play forte - piano - forte, which is the most common, or a gradual step dynamic piano - mf - f.
Both options are possible; most of all, these literal repetitions have to be varied.

 

 

 

SARABANDE (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Sarabandes are in 3.
All Sarabandes start on the first beat.
The Sarabande has two main accents, on ONE and on TWO.
Both accents are even; in some Sarabandes the ONE is stronger, in others the TWO.
A good indicator is the use of double/triple stops on the strong accent.
The THIRD beat has no accent.
Micro-dynamic units are one bar and sometimes 2 bars.

This movement starts with a special effect:
The melody and the bass emerge from the same note, opening up from there into the split of bass and melody.
Bach seems to like this effect emerging from the note D. The only other movement he used this effect is the Prelude of Suite 6, and again the note is a D.

The first (double) note to bar 2 describe the shape of a crescendo, which maps our dynamic.
Correspondingly e can find exactly the same graphic crescendo in the first 2 bars of the second part, bar 13 / 14.

There is another corresponding set of gradually developing crescendos in this movement, which are introduced by an introductory descending scale:
bar 9 - 10, introduced in bar 8 and bar 21 to 23, introduced in bar 20. All crescendos need to start piano and are lead into it with the descending scale in a diminuendo.

The last set is followed by a rising scale in bar 24, which leads this quiet movement to a climax:
Out of already a crescendo (not piano anymore) a new chromatic rise in the bass from F (bar 25) to F#.
This rise continues to G (bar 26) and G# culminating in the dominant A major harmony, of which the key note is suspended to the 2nd beat.
The implication is forte for bar 27, from where on traditionally the ending may soften.


Suite 2, Sarabande bar 21 - 28 (Werner Icking Ed).
We can see the graphic crescendo and diminuendo described by the outer notes bar 21 to 24.
In the next bar the chromatic line in the bass (circled by me) indicates the increasing dynamic strength.

 

 

 

The MENUETS (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Menuets are in 3/4 and start on the first beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent, is often missing, the end of a phrase, transitional or an accompaniment note.
The THIRD beat has an extra step (a minute one, therefore: MINUeT).
It can be felt and heard, but the character is usually short.
Micro-dynamic units are usually 2 bars, but sometimes 1 bar.
Sometimes 2 bars together form a unit as of 3/2 instead of 6/4.
The accents are then divided over the 1/2 notes as if the tempo is slowed down to half speed.
The last 2 bars of Minuet 1 of Suite 2 are such a unit of 6 beats, or better, 3 beats of 1/2 notes ignoring the bar line.

MENUET 1

Menuet 1 starts in the bass (like Menuet 2 of Suite 1) with a descending Phrygian scale on the strong first beat.
The strong first beat seems to carry through except during the last 3 bars.
This gives this Menuet a quite Spanish, rather stern character, a certain heaviness.
It is important to bring the Phrygian scale out clearly.
In the last two bars of part 1 the graphic crescendo (see dynamic mapping) supplies us with the dynamic interpretation:
as the chords open up, the crescendo increases; the last chord is taken back as an end note and also because of the decrease of width of the interval.


Menuet 1, bar 1 - 4 (werner Icking Ed). The Phrygian scale in the bass.

Part 2:
Again in bar 3 the chords widen to a crescendo towards bar 4.
By feeling the strong first beat and going with the extension of the chords and the ups and downs of the melody, we are guided very well through the dynamics.
To the last bars:
It was common to express a written ritardando by putting 2 bars together as one: 6 beats of 1/4 into 3 beats of 1/2.
This means for bar 26 and 27, that the first 4/8 are on beat, the next 2/4 the next beat and the dotted 1/4 plus the 1/8 the last beat.
(Some interpreters apply the same interpretation to bar 14 / 15, which is possible and remains a question of taste and preference.


Menuet 1, bar 21 - 24 (Werner icking Ed). Bar 22-23 are virtually one large bar in 3/2, a composed ritardando.

MENUET 2

A much lighter, less complicated Menuet, always in 3/4.
Menuet 2 is composed in sets of 2 bars, of which the first beat of the 2 bars is strong.
These further pulled apart strong beats make the Menuet lighter.
The second last bear with 3 times 2/8 slurred point to a ritardando,
It suits the Menuet instead of a complicated interpretation to play just the repeats soft.

 

 


GIGUE (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Gigue's start with 1/8 upbeat.
The time signatures of the Gigue's are the most diverse ones.
The basic unit is a 3/8.
Suite 2,3 and 5 are in 3/8.
The accents are on ONE and a smaller one on THREE.
But we mainly feel in the Gigue the pulse of the 3/8 unit as one beat (we could not tap our foot continuously 3 times per bar).
Very commonly micro-dynamic unit compasses 2 bars, of which the first bar is stronger with a strong ONE;
in the second bar we feel the accent, but it is heard as a soft note.

The harmonies of the first 2 bars in the Gigue are a short version of the beginning of the Prelude, abbreviated, the speed faster, like a reminder.
Remarkably, the first two notes are also the same as of the Gigue of Suite No 6 - it seems THE beginning for Gigues in D.

Like most Gigues in 3/8, two bars often form a unit of 6/8, of which the first beat of the first bar has the most emphasis.
This pattern we find at the beginning, so the bars with the accent are bar 1, 3, 5 and continuing on all odd bar numbers to bar 21.
Frequently two pairs form a larger unit of 4 bars.
In this case we watch, which pair is higher, which one lower in order to determine the direction of the dynamic.

In bar 21 to 24 each bar has an accent - the lower part plays the 1/8 pulse like a drum, and of course a drummer needs to emphasize the one.
After this set of 4 bars follows another, showing an ascending scale in the lower part.
For the dynamic interpretation this means: bar 25 starts piano the triple stop doesn't make this chord is important;
rather the E is unavoidable on the string instrument, as we can't skip it. On the lute or the organ it could be missing.


Gigue of Suite 2 bar 22 - 29 (Doerffel / Bach-Gesellschaft)
In bar 22, 23 we can see the accents on the first beat (as on bar 21).
In bar 25 - 29 we can see in the bass the rising scale.
Apart from this bass scale the melody is kept repetitive, as if it is just there to spread out the crescendo.
In bar 25 we have in the chord the unavoidable middle note E - we can't skip it, but it is unimportant.
The larger crescendo spreads also over the smaller diminuendos in each bar except bar 28, where a crescendo leads to the climax. Maybe therefore the E is written?
We find the E in Anna Magdalena's manuscript, manuscript D, and all early editions, Cotelle, Dotzauer and Doerffel.
However, most editions have today the B like in the bars before, which is written in the oldest manuscript by Kellner and manuscript C.

We expect bar 30 to end in a (minor or major) as this would naturally finish the rising scale, and would also be the normal middle ending of a D minor movement (see Allemande / Courante / both Menuets, even the Prelude).
Instead we find a surprise low C, which is difficult to make sounding well and must have responded even worse in Bach's time (If Bach would have been a cellist, he would have put it probably an octave higher).
The expected dominant A major turns only up in the 3rd last note, and surely requires a slow down to bring out the total change of character from a certain roughness to this sweet end.

One would expect, that the second part continues in A major, as otherwise the C# would remain rather lonely at the end of part one.
But that's how it is. Nearly confronting part 2 start with C, changing the key to F major.
Part 2 is constructed similar and there is no need to go through in such detail.
I might point out to bring out the F# in bar 41, as it introduces a whole section in the new key.

As in music of this period we should not bounce out the last note.
The last two bars are firstly - strictly speaking - still a pair, of which the first has the stronger accent,
secondly in ancient music the end note was taken back,
thirdly if we would play the movement on piano / clavichord or lute, we would also not bounce the last note out.

 

 

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For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com



_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Suite No. III

(For a harmonic analysis please click in the box here below:)

 

 

Key: C major

Difficulty: The Suites is like Suite 2 ok for the moderate advanced player.,
Grade 6-8 out of 10

Character: Like the key of C major: straightforward; the harmonies clear, the developments are easy to follow.
There is a certain solidness in the rhythm of this Suite.
A Suite expressed mainly in scales and triads or parts thereof - with hardly any melodies in steps free of these - with all possible varieties and a great playfulness.

 

PRELUDE

Often the starting descending scale is played with pathos as if a bass starts a Romantic aria.
I feel though already the introducing scale should convey the pulse of the beat and introduce also into the tempo of the piece, not stand separate.

The following rising scale movement out of the open C does not have slurs.
It seems Bach avoided slurs on the C string, as if the strings at the time sounded too muffled and unclear to slur.
We find the same in the end passage bar 71.
It is up to us today to respect the original bowing, finding an effect in it or just slurring matching the later slurs.

I want to encourage every player of this Prelude to take the extra time and write in (circle) all the hidden scales in this movement.
With hidden I mean they don't appear note after note, but with a note or whole passages in between the steps.
Once we can "see" these hidden scales, we can hear them and see them easily.
They lead us through the piece like a thread stitched into the fabric.
A good player can bring these scales out, that they guide us as a melody.
The normal procedure is to follow dynamically these hidden - or larger - scales.
With many instruments it is normal or unavoidable to increase the dynamic when we go up and decrease when we go down.
On a string instrument we can do the opposite as well, but It sounds natural once implied, that we hardly notice it, even if when we express it strongly.
A "climax" is naturally standing out - as the word says, and not bending down - and also not by surprise somewhere in the middle.
We follow quasi the rules of nature by matching the dynamic expression to the curve of the melody.

In the long passage bar 45 to 60 the original bowing is 3 slurred + 1 single note to bring the bow back.
With a Baroque bow it sounds fine, with our modern bow that single note suddenly is given extra bow and tends to bounce out.
The repetitiveness does not help to manage it better.
It is a very interesting experiment to just hold the bow a hand wide more in. The bounce out effect disappears completely making us understand the original bowing.
When playing with our bow today I slur 4 notes as it matches the original sound better than the 3 + 1 solution.

We can hear quite some performances and even recordings, where the repetitive G is bounced out. There is a certain fashion believing that this represents the "Baroque style of joy". The bouncing out is in fact a physical joy, not a musical one, and If played on any other instrument, the player would bring out the changing notes out of musical joy - as not to get bored. We should assume, that Bach was musical and would have appreciated bringing out the musical content of a piece.

Bar 76 to the end:
Bar 76: the last beat does not show a slur in Anna Magdalena's copy.
For me it does not indicate, that it is forgotten, but rather, the separate bows indicate a ritardando; one of the corrections by the old Bach..
Bar 77 - 81: In the bass we find one of our hidden scales - a scale from F E Eb D to C.
These bass notes are important and shouldn't be skimmed (unimportant is the G).
Their length can be determined by the 1/16 of the E, bar 78.
By playing each of these bass notes at the length of 1/16 we give it consistency.
In the top strings we find a countermovement of the top A string: A B C ; on the D string in countermotion G F E.
Rhythmically we should keep tempo, no shortcuts, no accel., just straight.
The rests leave time for echo, but need to be held.
By keeping the rests in rhythm bar 81 falls into place like an organ entering to announce the finale.
Also bar 82 - 84 have the best effect when kept in time.
The last chord is for sure not without reason written as 1/4, not a 3/4 note.

The last 3 lines of Prelude 3, manuscript "C".
I circled the rests, to be counted strictly (see also the rests after the last chord)
I also circled the countermovement in the chords bar 79 to 81.

Summary of the "hidden scales" in the Prelude and their implied dynamic:

Already during the first 6 bars, after the descending scale in bar 1 has been stated, the rising dynamic of the first notes of the bar indicate a crescendo to bar 6 - we arrive at least in poco forte.
From bar 7 to 13/14 the "hidden scale" leads us from the tonic "C" note by note down to a "G" in 2 bar segments, which in itself include twice a descending transition during the last 4/16.
We have no other option than to arrive in bar 13 in piano.
In the following bars I indicated all first notes of a bar, which I hear inside me as a guide, when I play, as if following Bach's instruction.

A larger development begins in bar 33: firstly in bars, then in a distance of beats, the "hidden scale" descends down more than one octave and finally drops to the lowest note of the cello, the open C.
As it is often the case, from here on (bar 37) a two bar sequence rises and we could attach our marks virtually to nearly any note within the sequence - we can here the rise in many related notes.
I circled the first note of the 2 bar units, but of course I could have circled the highest or lowest note as well: we can hear the hidden scale in many related notes.
From bar 50 to 56 we find two bar units, which have a nice melody in itself.
Each unit is like a large step decorated with a mosaic and diplays within each of the 2 bars step a melody (always the changing note), which when played out adds a brilliance to the passage.
Each step descends up to the F and rises over the F# to the G, adding some weight to the end of the passage in bar 66.

The ending (from bar 71 on) starts in a C scale like in bar 2, like a recapitulation.
More gradual and stricter than in the beginning the "hidden scale" leads us in a crecendo up, again like at the start to the E.
But fro her the dynamic tumbles down to a piano:
From bar 77 to 78 the outer parts open up like a crescendo sign, and so do again from bar 79 to 81: if we connect with a pen the outer notes, the graphic lines describe a crescendo.
Once arrived here, the outer notes stay - as if finally having arrived - indicating a constant strong sound towards the end.

As mentioned in the chapter on structure, the dramatic effect relies on the rests (there is no rest in this movement before the 10th last bar), which makes one think, that the piece has maybe been written for a larger hall, where the silence of the rests is filled with the diminishing echo.
Interestingly enough - and to foster this idea - the last chord is only 1/4 with written out rests: finishing quite swiftly and wait for the sound to vanish until the piece has really ended.

 

Dynamic Mapping: Hidden and open Scales in (indicated in red). [print: Doerffel 1879]
If played well, the listener can easily follow the indicated "hidden scales".

 

 


ALLEMANDE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Allemandes are in 4/4 with up beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent.
The THIRD beat is felt strong, but is commonly a soft ending, whereas strong endings are on One or also on FOUR.
The soft THREE is strong felt, but little heard.
If the ending is on FOUR, the THIRD beat gains some heaviness.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

Mattheson describes the Allemande as "the image of a content and satisfied spirit, which enjoys good order and calm".
This description gives us a good idea of the character.
The first 3 notes are not too harsh and short, but rather flowing and relaxed, leading into a dance, in which we should feel the 1/4 beat.
Once we feel this beat, it will lead us noticeably along hidden scales distributes to the first notes of each 1/4 or 1/8 and sometimes to following 1/16.
When we follow this up or down movement of the scales as well as changes from major to minor the movement turns into a musical building of a gentle flow.

In the dance of the Allemande the dancing partners turn towards each other and bough.
Musically this is expressed with the beginning of the bar virtually arriving at the final harmony with the first note.
This is followed by slowing down in a little play without change of harmony, ending in part A (bar 12) with g - end also G, and in part B (Bar 24): C - end also C.

Allemande - Cotelle.
As to allegro; if we take a metronome and put the 1/4 on Allegro, we will be far from a possible speed; we will be luckier with 1/8.
But rather we should feel the 1/4 and not loose the knowledge, that the Allemande is not a fast movement, but rather slow.
(1/16 are more common in slow movements than in fast ones. The highest partitions we find in the Allemande of Suite 6, marked "molto adagio).
- I circled the notes belonging to a "hidden" scale; underneath I indicated the direction with an arrow completed by the matching crescendo / diminuendo signs.
In bar 5 I feel it comes to a halt with a question mark: where is it going now? (circle with "?", to be expressed with a preparatory rit. and a small pause).

 

 


COURANTE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

Courante's are in 3/4 (except 3/2 in Suite 5).
They all start with an up beat.
All three beats can be felt distinctly.
The main accent is on ONE.
TWO and THREE have a minor accent, of which THREE is slightly stronger.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar, in the Courantes of Suite 3, 4 and 6 also 2 bars.
In this case the ONE of the "off bar" has a soft accent, felt, but little heard.

The Courante of Suite 3 is the only Courante in the Suites with an uncomplicated rhythmical pattern, fitting the description of the Italian Corrente, the variety of the Courante, which hadn't undergone the change to a slightly slower dance..

As mentioned above, scales and arpeggios are the common tools used in Suite 3.
As we can expect with Bach, they are not always shown in a straightforward way.
They occur as a loose guide to improvise upon.
The following passage starts with a chromatic figure in the bass of G, F#, F, following the circled notes .
Both, the bass line and the melody figure are rising; this would be expressed with a crescendo.
To make it more interesting, Bach set against the larger ascending scale an movement of descending scales.
As with many Baroque composers, the finished ascent does not end up in a climax, but leads to the next ascent:
here the bass and the upper melody move in contrary motion, the bass down, the upper melody up;
expressed in a graphic line figure instead of notes, this figure would look like a crescendo sign. Naturally it should be expressed like this as well.

I marked the end of the old section and start of the new with the letter "C"; this note is set one octave lower.
I feel, either it points out, that this note is a turning point, but perhaps also, does Bach show in Suite 3 still a cautious approach to cellists?
Does he prefer to offer cellists an open C string instead of a hastily played out of tune C on the G string?
For me it indicates also, that the probably moderate speed left enough time to reach down to the open C string, not too fast.


Bar 15 to 28 (Doerffel) scale movement and graphic crescendo.


Bar 46 to 54 (Dotzauer); hidden scales; first diminuendo until the upper part forms a graphic crescendo.


Bar 65 to 74 (Dotzauer); rising scale in the bass leading a crescendo to the pedal point G

 

 


SARABANDE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Sarabande's are in 3.
All Sarabande's start on the first beat.
The Sarabande has two main accents, on ONE and on TWO.
Both accents are even; in some Sarabande's the ONE is stronger, in others the TWO.
A good indicator is the use of duoble/triple stops on the strong accent.
The THIRD beat has no accent.
Micro-dynamic units are one bar and sometimes 2 bars.

As in Suite 1 we find ornaments to the Sarabande in manuscript "C" and "D". The ornaments are sparse, but effective.
There is no overload, as it is a slow movement. Runs and acrobatic shows would destroy the calm character of the Sarabande.
These few ornaments played in the repeat enhance the performance.
As in all Sarabande's, the accents are on the 1st and an unusually strong 2nd beat, which are therefore also the places for chords.
The endings also show the heavy beat on two.

The Sarabande starts in bar 1 - 2 with a chromatic decline in the melody: C - B - Bb - A, which naturally asks for a diminuendo.
In Bar 3 the character switches to an easier mood.
Note the bass line: I learned in my music theory studies, that according to Bach's writing the leading note B must be resolved rising to the C, a seventh jump down would have been a mistake marked with red.
It seems to me, in Suite 1 to 3 Bach showed a certain distrust into the cellist's intonation.
Although it would be technically possible to play in bar 3 on the second beat the rising C together with the F in the melody, Bach didn't trust it would be in tune, and if even possible he offered an open string, even if it meant introducing a middle note, which goes nowhere.
That means, although triple and quadruple stops are a rarity on string instruments, they were introduced as necessity, because string players can't jump a string.
In the interpretation it means, the bottom C has to be brought out, the middle G has not to be held for the full length of the beat, as it would mislead the ear, that the G would be the important note.
Contrary to advice by many editors, these middle notes are transitional and should not be held, but just skimmed, the C in the bass being strong, then the bow goes up to the F skimming the G on the way and letting go of it.


See melody of bar 1 - 2: chromatic decline C - B - Bb - A. - Bar 3: the bass B is resolved to C, jumping an octave lower necessitating the middle note G.

The middle notes are sometimes just there, because on a string instrument we need to pass them in order to play the bass together with the melody.
That means - strangely enough - that in some cases the normally single lined string instrument forces the composer to write fuller chords than would have been necessary on an organ or a lute.

Sarabande 3, manuscript "C". The added ornaments by manuscript "C" are circled by me.

 

 


The BOURREE'S
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Bourree's are in 4/4 and have an upbeat of 1/4.
The main accent is felt on ONE.
In playing often FOUR and ONE can have even strength or FOUR can even be even stronger than ONE.
The next beats TWO and THREE are the softer counterpart.
A strong dance feeling of steps.
However, there are parts in the Bourree's, in which ONE and THREE carry the accent and a 2/2 feeling is predominant.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

BOURREE 1

After Prelude from Suite 1, Bourree 1 of Suite 3 is the most well known movement of the Cello Suites.
Bach must have been fond of the strong entrance rhythm.
He not only used it in Bourree 2, but also in lute Suite 1 (with only one different melody note to Bourree 2), but also in the Brandenburgische Concert No 3.
The character of Bourree 1 of Suite 3 and the first movement of the Brandenburgische Concert are virtually identical, in syllabus expressed: daadaa dam.
In some methods the first 3 notes are articulated like: tata taa - tata taa (as e.g. Suzuki method), making the dance sound like an exercise.
Nothing could be less Baroque.

As in typical Baroque articulation, the first two 1/8 should be with the same length and broadness as the following 1/4 note on the first beat (see indicated below).
In the majority of manuscripts the first 1/8 are separate, where as the 1/8 in the bass are slurred.
This bowing gives the melody prominence and also nearly a 2/2 feeling for the dance.
I understand the character of the slur in bar 1 and the anacrusis with two 1/8 as the same;
the separate bowing is used for stronger sound, the slur for softness, a technique Bach often used in the violin Partitas as well.

In bar 5/6 most manuscripts as here "C" show a bowing 3 slurred followed by a single 1/8.
This bowing sounds good, but requires a good bow control, as one needs still to emphasize the first note of the slur - with not much bow available.
Many use therefore a bowing of separating the 1st and 4th note (belonging to a scale down).
This bowing is not original. but easier for our bow today.
The Baroque bow had no problems with repeated bowings like 7 slurred followed by a single note stroke without the single note sounding bouncing out.

Bourree 1 from manuscript "C". I indicated the articulation for the first 3 notes.
In bar 5/6 see the original bowing 3 slurred + 1. I circled the descending scale, which should be brought out.

BOURREE 2

Already in the first print by Cotelle, Bourree 2 has a dynamic instruction: p (piano) in contrast to Bourree I, indicated mf.
Many early prints recommend already starting this movement on the D string.
In bar 12 would be the first appearance of the A string.
The manuscripts and early prints show often slurs of 4 notes, which I regard matching the piano character.

 

 


GIGUE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Gigue's start with 1/8 upbeat.
The time signatures of the Gigue's are the most diverse ones.
The basic unit is a 3/8.
Suite 2,3 and 5 are in 3/8.
The accents are on ONE and a smaller one on THREE.
But we mainly feel in the Gigue the pulse of the 3/8 unit as one beat (we could not tap our foot continuously 3 times per bar).
Very commonly micro-dynamic unit compasses 2 bars, of which the first bar is stronger with a strong ONE;
in the second bar we feel the accent, but it is heard as a soft note.

The Gigue of Suite 3 is one of the wildest movements of the 6 Suites including the great major seventh double stop clash.
Although we might start the repeat in piano, the start is certainly fiery.

For the bowings I select here Anna Magdalena's manuscripts, which also demonstrates her style of writing slurs:
they are indicated, rather meant to be understood than read literally. In my opinion she meant to tell:
slur always the sets of 4/16. What she literally writes is: sometimes longer, sometimes shorter slurs.
When starting the movement with a down bow, the bowing falls into place (she forgot one slur in bar 13, E-F#, indicated by me).

Gigue C major, manuscript by Anna Magdalena. The bowings flow well.
Interesting is her way of just indicating the slurs of the 4/16: "play a slur" instead of writing accurately the slur over ( 2 or 3 or) 4 notes

Bar 21 etc. Bach plays with the moving note on the lower ( later upper) string against an open string.
Technically we need to play the level of the strings as close as possible together.
What I mean is, usually we play each string on a middle level, which gives enough room to the next strings so we don't touch them even when we play forte.
We need to redo this habit for these passages. Our level is here not one string, but actually the double stop of both strings we alternate.
To play the quick succession, we move just a fraction from the double stop level, that we just only touch one string.

 

 

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For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com




_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Suite No. IV

Key: Eb major

Difficulty: A hard Suite on the hand. Prelude and Gigue can tire the hand out. No easy movement in this Suite.
Grade 8-9 out of 10

Character: An interesting and spellbinding Suite with unusually dense and strong harmonies and developments.
It reminds of "work", but interesting work, like someone who loves his job, because it is fascinating, a mixture of science and travel adventures.

 

PRELUDE

In structure Prelude 4 and 1 are virtually identical.
Instead of a melody we find arpeggios leading us from one harmony to the next.
This pattern covers the first half of the movements, finishing in a rest.
The arpeggios are often repeated, here full bars, in Prelude 1 in half bars.
As indicated in Prelude 6, the repeated bars should be echoes of the first.
This applies also the ending bar 82 to 87.

As in Prelude 1 the harmonies start as a cadence confirming the key and returning again to the key of the piece, here Eb major in bar 9.
From here the quite static introduction symbolized by the pedal point Eb has finished and it starts moving.
The important notes are the last 1/8 of the bar and the first on the next bar.
In order to develop tension, interest and character these two notes need to be brought out until bar 49!
A climax is achieved after the built up to bar 31.
In bar 32 for the first time is no connection to the frame notes of the bar;
the end note movement instead is again picked up one bar later with the Ab moving to the mysterious E, which I find demands a character and dynamic change (I play a sudden pp and staccato notes);
again here are 2 bars a unit.
In bar 35 the usual start and endnote emphasis continues.

The 4 last bars before the great pause describe a falling down arpeggio plus a descending bass line.
In the bars before the arpeggios flow up, which makes the part before the pause even more distinct.
I like to play the Bb in bar 48 on the D string to prepare the listener to the extraordinary low note.
No question the C# on the pause is pp.

Part 1 has no slur, no manuscripts indicates even one slur.
All 1/8 in this Prelude are detached (see example of part 2 below).

The following long slur moves out of nothing like a starting to roll swirl until it gains again momentum to form the old rhythm again.
The indication is one long phrasing bow or slur.
This is the first slur in the movement.
Because the slur has a length impossible to play, some cellists like Anner Bylsma decided to play the whole passage detached.
This is certainly the opposite as Bach intended, otherwise there would not be a slur written.
Also the whole phrase winds out of a dynamically low point.
The detachment of the slur makes this transitional passage a quasi forte solo, which is out of context at this place.



A long slur in the Prelude of Suite 4, here Anna Magdalena. This slur is shown in all 4 manuscripts, too long to play in one bow.
Bach, Brahms, Beethoven, 21st century composers still write all phrasing slurs like this leaving it technically up to the player how best to divide.
To play all detached, because the slur / phrase it too long to play would be the same as ignoring in a Brahms Sonata all slurs, which are too long to play in one bow.
Also, Bach's indication by writing a slur would be ignored.

The second part suddenly includes runs and scales, interrupted by the old pattern of arpeggios.
Both Preludes share this common structure.

Prelude 4 goes further and adds to the change into runs and scales a different speed - or rhythm.
The scale like sections are in double speed and more complex rythms.
The harmonies are sometimes unusual and some say of nearly Eastern character.
I find in bar 56/57 the original bowing of 1/16 followed by 3/16 slurred very effective.

As to the bowings, all manuscripts share the same ideas, which we should take as meant to be:
All sections of 1/8 arpeggios are played with separated bows;
slurs occur only in the sections including 1/16; more so, all phrases of 1/16 include slurs.
In some modern editions opposite ideas appear, to slur the arpeggios and to play runs with separated strokes.
This was certainly not Bach's idea as it can nowhere be found at all.
For this Prelude differing bowings concern only how many notes we should slur in runs, but not if we should slur or not.
Arpeggios have not to be slurred.


Prelude of Suite 4, end (here manuscript of Anna Magdalena)
All manuscript show common bowings: we find slurs everywhere, where are 1/16 .
If there are no 1/16, there is no slur. There is no exception.
The question is only how we should divide a slur, which is technically too long.


 

 

ALLEMANDE (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Allemandes are in 4/4 with up beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent.
The THIRD beat is felt strong, but is commonly a soft ending, whereas strong endings are on One or also on FOUR.
The soft THREE is strong felt, but little heard.
If the ending is on FOUR, the THIRD beat gains some heaviness.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

Allemande 4 is in character very similar to Allemande I, the most peaceful flowing movement without hard edges and with beautiful climaxes.
After a 2 bar flowing introduction we find a sequence descending from bar to bar one note and finishing the first section in the same harmony on the 3rd beat in bar 6.

Very unusual for Bach, we find the "hidden scale" to the climax of part 1 not on the 1st or 3rd beat, but from bar 9 to 11 on the 2nd and 4th beat.
Bach takes as character notes the shape of the 2/8 of the 2nd beat in bar 3 to 5 and uses this shape as the later building block to express the hidden scale with.
On the strong beat he lets the 4/16 move one time up and one time down.
I feel this expresses, that we have here no step dynamic, but a gradual crescendo, since the effect of the step is purposefully disrupted.
We find here 2/8 - a seventh apart - both rising by a note of the scale.
The second 1/8 though, the higher note, is clear standing out as a single note and expresses the climax more.
Naturally this note has to come out without being rushed over in a full and free sound.


Suite 4, Allemande bar 9 - 11 (Dotzauer 1890)
We can see the rising scale in the top note, 2nd/8 on beat 2 and 4.
Although the rising scale indicates a crescendo to a climax in bar 11, the alternating direction in the movements of beat 1 and 3 make sure, that step dynamic can't be applied, but a gradual crescendo, which suits the gradual flow of this Allemande.
As to the bowing in the example, no manuscript shows it, and I also don't prefer it, but 4/16 slurred and 2/8 separated
(I chose this edition only, because the development happened to be on one line).

From the high G the melody tumbles down nearly two octaves and bounces back like a ball on a step into the syncopation in bar 13.
This syncopation as later in part 2 bar 39 needs the accent on the 3rd beat (not the highest note) or the whole bounce effect and rhythm (the actual effect of a syncopation) gets lost.

As for bowings, the standard figure is 4 slurred for 4 notes going scale like in one direction.
An interruption of the scale, a jump of a third or more can be expressed by a change of bow direction.
Manuscript "C" indicates frequently (but not systematically) to play the first 1/8 separated followed by a slur of 3/8, which lets the movement sound very articulated and rhythmical.
Both bowings are possible and it remains a question of individual taste.

In part 2 we find several section with repeated figures of 2 notes, the first time in bar 23.
All early editions mark to slur 2/8 and we should follow that.
Bar 27/28 is a piano answer to the preceding forte in bar 23/24.
In bar 23, the 3rd beat in all early sources is an Ab, A natural appears only as the 3rd/8 of the 3rd beat in bar 24.
To anticipate the A in bar 23 is a printing mistake.

 

 

COURANTE (click here for history / characteristics)


Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

Courante's are in 3/4 (except 3/2 in Suite 5).
They all start with an up beat.
All three beats can be felt distinctly.
The main accent is on ONE.
TWO and THREE have a minor accent, of which THREE is slightly stronger.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar, in the Courante's of Suite 3, 4 and 6 also 2 bars.
In this case the ONE of the "off bar" has a soft accent, felt, but little heard.

Despite its runs in 1/16 this Courante is quite complex in rhythm, with passages of 1/8 triplets and 1/16, a typical French Courante.
As for the tempo, the triplets should flow, not rush, the 1/8 not to heavy, but as Mattheson describes it:
"sweet hopefulness, something of the cheerful in the melody." I find this description fits this Courante very well.

This movement is one of the most loaded ones with Bach's favourite methods of dynamic architecture:
hidden scales one folllowing the other including counterpoints in which the melody notes on the first beats run exactly contrary to the bass to form a graphic crescendo.
In the quasi 4 bar introduction leading melody notes are the two 1/8 surrounding the bar lines:
Eb I Eb . . . . . D I Eb transition I Bb . . . . . A I Bb, virtually trumpeting out the key note with leading note and the dominant with leading note.
Then the play with the hidden scale starts on the subdominant Ab, going step by step down to the tonic Eb in bar 8;
a truly hidden scale - the starting note of the bars with the flowing triplets: Ab - G - F - Eb.
Looking at the starting notes from bar 9 - 16 we find a crescendo scale: G - A - A - Bb - Bb - C - D - Eb (forte);

The construction of the individual bars shows a preference of step dynamic, meaning that the crescendo does not appear gradually but in steps, like a sudden move from pp to p to mf to f, but more steps as the common signs provide for.
This step dynamic is shown by a counterpoint scale running down in each bar, contradicting the overall rise of the scale.
This means, we step up, go a bit down, step up more, go a bit down etc, exactly like shown in the counterpoint patterns of the larger melody scale (first notes of the bar) against the inner bar scale moving down.
Playing tis inner architecture does not sound artificial, put on, it sounds like it has to be, as if the notes were put into a life, natural.


Courante bar 13 - 16 (Cotelle). The architecture of a step dynamic: the top melody rises, symbolized in the first note of each bar.
The counter melody moves down within the individual bars indicating an overall crescendo in steps, with a slight diminuendo within each bar.

Just this movement is so full of this form of architecture.
Like in bar 16 - 21 after the rise, the melody declines to the double stop in bar 18.
From here it rises up to the G in a passage, where the rising top notes (especially the first note of the bars) and the descending bass notes form a graphic crescendo.
Here the full crescendo is supported by the inner melody moving up as well, though the inner melody starts always lower than the last one finished, again pointing to a step dynamic crescendo.

In the second part we find the same structural elements.
Without going through all of them, I suggest to look at all notes on the first beat and discover the hidden scales in order to discover the dynamic pattern.
In bar 49 - 54 we need again to observe the first and second note, which belong to a counterpoint movement.

Interesting in the ending of both parts of this Courante are the last 4 bars.
The final harmony is reached on the first beat 4 bars before the endings just to be confirmed in the last 2 bars again, and unusually long finishing procedure.

 

 

SARABANDE (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Sarabandes are in 3.
All Sarabandes start on the first beat.
The Sarabande has two main accents, on ONE and on TWO.
Both accents are even; in some Sarabandes the ONE is stronger, in others the TWO.
A good indicator is the use of double/triple stops on the strong accent.
The THIRD beat has no accent.
Micro-dynamic units are one bar and sometimes 2 bars.

This Sarabande has a noticeable accent on the second beat.
It can be shown by the fact, that most additional ornaments occur on the 2nd beat, giving it importance.
I show here manuscript "D", which was written at a time where adding free ornaments became replaced with playing literally what was printed.
Luckily it means for us, that "D" had in mind how the ornaments were still played in his time and wrote them in for the next generation to make sure they didn't leave them out.

I circled the added ornaments, which sound particularly interesting as a variety for the repeat.
I added also on the end note of part 1 a lower mordent at the end of the trill, as indicated by Dotzauer, who must have relied on further manuscript from the same period as manuscript "D".
Note also in bar 17 the graphic shape of a crescendo formed between melody and bass notes.
The effect and necessity of the crescendo is emphasized also by the added ornamented on each 1/4.



Sarabande Eb major by manuscript "D". The added ornaments are circled by me.

 

 


The BOURREE'S
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Bourree's are in 4/4 and have an upbeat of 1/4.
The main accent is felt on ONE.
In playing often FOUR and ONE can have even strength or FOUR can even be even stronger than ONE.
The next beats TWO and THREE are the softer counterpart.
A strong dance feeling of steps.
However, there are parts in the Bourree's, in which ONE and THREE carry the accent and a 2/2 feeling is predominant.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

In Suite 4 - 6 Bach chose to write the pair of dances in the same key and mode. The contrast of the the pair rests on the character only.
A difficult tak considering the character needs still to remain within the same tempo and the same dance.
Both Bourree's of Suite 4 - I would say - are a little bit cheeky.

BOURREE 1

Bourree I plays with echoes and slurred runs contrasting the typical Bourree figure of 2 separated 1/8 followed by a 1/4.
This typical figure needs to be played as in Bourree 3, taataa ta (not ta ta taa).
This figure is - also typical - often followed by the 'left hand piano accompaniment', two accompayning notes usually in octave distance, which should be played like an accompaniment, short and in the background.
Although Anna Magdalena slurs the 4/16 of the upbeat and separates to the first beat, she is the only one.
Bowings are in all editions not absolutely strict, but from the earliest, Kellner, to the last, manuscript "D", we find the upbeat slurred with the first beat of the following bar, which is indeed the much smoother way to play.

For the first time we find dynamic instructions in the Bach Suites, a rarity in Baroque compositions.
The earliest manuscript by Kellner notes only one forte marking for the last 2 bars, at the anacrusis G F in bar 46.
Anna Magdalena marks nothing.
Manuscript "C" and "D" mark also contrast, usually echoes, as here shown in manuscript 'C'.

Bourree I, bar 27 to 30, Manuscript "C". With marked dynamics for the echoe effects

BOURREE 2

Bourree II is the shortest movement in the 6 Suites. It nevertheless sticks in one's mind as so full of character.
The solo cello plays a syncopated melody against an accompaniment in even half bars. The effect is odd and cheeky.
I play the repeats closer to the bridge, even dryer and even shorter than the short notes!
It took me a while to find the most effective bowing, which is simply, playing always the double stop on down bow in order to control best the incoming accompaniment.
The bowing for line one would look like that:

Bowing suggestion for Bourree II (print edition is by Werner Icking, my bowing peciled in)

 

 

GIGUE (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Gigue's start with 1/8 upbeat.
The time signatures of the Gigue's are the most diverse ones.
The basic unit is a 3/8.
But we mainly feel in the Gigue the pulse of the 3/8 unit as one beat.


Suite 4 is in 12/8, an Italian Gigue, which is the fastest Gigue.
We don't feel the beat of the single 1/8, but the 3/8 as a unit like a 4/4 bar in triplets, played best rhythmically with virtually throughout original slurs of 3/8..
The units are one bar.
This Gigue is interesting from the point , that it is one of the few dance movements in the Suites, which is written in ternary form

As in Bourree I, Bach continues to play with echo effects, repeated bars with the implication to play the repeat softer, as it was common in Baroque times.
Apart from the echoes, which are easily to identify - and should be written in by the player - there are again 'hidden scales".
Sometimes these scales start from the bottom in piano and rise in a crescendo on the way up;
at other times they (must) start after the echo like a new forte theme but this time as a start of a descending hidden scale.
It demands from the player to recognize the descending scale and start with a convincing forte in order to be able to descend with a diminuendo.

Part A of Gigue in Eb(Werner icking Edition)
After the introductory 2 bars, two pairs of theme plus echo are following; in the next 2 bars the "hidden scale" starts piano and rises, to descend in the following bar finishing in the dominant Bbmajor.
In my view the finish here is not forte, but after the descending line only a mf , which gives the start of the Part B more power.

At the beginning of the second part Bach chooses the other option.

Part B of Gigue in Eb (Werner Icking)
As in Part A, Bach starts with 2 introductory bars, and these are followed by a pair of theme and echo.
But now the "hidden scale" starts at the timing of the new theme and echo in part A, but this time it is the start of a declining scale, moving bar by bar.
The player might intuitively switch after the echo to forte, which is correct, the only way to express the declining scale.
This is different to part A, where the "hidden scale starts in piano - but a pair of bars later.

Bar 22 / 23 surprise us with an interesting "hidden scale" starting with the "C" in the second half of bar of 22, rises by half bars to D and Eb linking then in the last 2 notes of bar 23, F# and G to the next pair of bars (24 / 25) of theme and echo before Part B finalises, virtually going back to a recapitulation.
This Gigue is written nearly in a shape of a later Sonata form, a form, that Bach uses very rarely in the Suites.

After restating the theme, the first pair of theme and echoes of part A is repeated.
Now Bach introduces two further pairs of theme and echo.
As in the beginning of part B, the "hidden scale" starts here in forte (bar 35) and descends in a diminuendo to the beginning of the 5th bar (bar 39), to rise from there in half bars into an ending parallel to part A.

I heard many interpretations, in which cellists are lead to play a crescendo in the descending line of bar 35 - 38.
It feels like fun and I used to enjoy it. Only: once we arrive with forte at the bottom D it is virtually impossible to develop an interesting ending.
It is like we exhaused the strength of sound too early, and unfortunately we need to keep going for some bars more!
The ending sounds only convincing, if we have enough resources to play a crescendo from bar 39 to 41.

Gigue 4, bar 32 to 42 (Werner Icking edition). The "hidden scales" are circled by me.




For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com






_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

DONATION: A contribution to this project would be appreciated.

 

Suite No. V

Key: C minor

Difficulty: Technically the Sarabande and Gigue are not hard, the other movement require a more advanced skill.
Grade 6-9 out of 10

Character: Somber, serious, with a great beauty in the somberness, like a dark painting by Rembrandt.
An atmosphere of autumn and sunset or even dark.
Nevertheless it leaves the player in a peaceful, but serious state of mind as a sad and well written novel would do.


The B - A - C - H theme ( Bb - A - C - B
natural ) in the Courante, Sarabande, Gavotte and Gigue of Suite No 5.

The following information has not be known until now - hidden skilfully by Bach himself by the use of scordatura - and if I will have ever any claim of fame, it will be to have discovered this earliest and repeated use of this theme.

The most well known use of the 'B - A - C - H' theme occurs in the "ART of FUGUE".

We must assume, that Bach was already early in his life impressed and probably proud, that every letter of his name represents (in German) a musical note: B-A-C-H  (English reading: Bb - A - C - B natural).

Probably his ancestors already knew this musical connection to their name, and we can imagine little Bach whistling the theme. In any case, no use or incidental occurrence of this theme would have escaped him.
He knew the sequence so well we must exclude that he had used it accidentally.




(This scale can be found at Westminster Abbey - it seems the b (for Bb) and h (for B natural) notation was used in England as well -
click on image for complete painting)

II heard being mentioned at different sources that the B-A-C-H theme occurs also in the Sarabande of Suite 3 in C major.
I was surprised that it had escaped my attention and I checked: It is not really true.
In bar 21/22 the base sequence is: B - A - H - C - H.
I think we can't pick out 4 notes in either bass or melody and just skip one, which clearly stands in the middle in the same bass part - just to make us feeling having found the treasure.

The following information has not be known until now - hidden skilfully by Bach himself by the use of scordatura (anyway, that's what I think).
Bach used the B-A-C-H theme in Cello Suite No 5, and not only once as if maybe by accident, but carefully set in the Courante, Sarabande, Gavotte I and Gigue, decades before he wrote the "Art of Fugue" .

The centre of the B-A-C-H theme is the Sarabande; it is used preparatory in the Courante and mentioned in the Gavotte and Gigue.
It occurs in the Courante in bar 22, in the melody, preparing the C tonic, from which a melodic minor scale descends to the end of the movement.
At this place I discovered the theme first, playing form the "sound / standard tuning" edition, not with the scordatura: because in the scordatura we read the wrong notes!
The positioning for the theme is so strangely set before the descent that it made me think: it announces something more, it is heralding the main feature.
This train of thought made me investigate the Sarabande.



Courante 5, bar 22 (standard tuning), heralding with the B - A - C - H theme before winding down to the finish, that the next movement - the Sarabande - will be important. (Werner Icking edition, "sound" version)

I need to mention here Bach's fascination with numbers and their symbolic use. If we give the letters B A C H a number for their position in the alphabet (2+1+3+8), Bach's name ads up to 14.
He identified with this number and used it frequently.
In the Sarabande we find the theme as the anacrusis to bar 14 - the last two 1/8 of bar 13 - followed by the last two 1/8 of bar 14, set apart by 4/8 by the bass part.
Bach was a polyphonic thinker and we need to think in parts: top part, melody - sometimes middle part - and bass.
The continuation of the theme does not cross over from one part to the other, but stays within the same part.
The break of the top melody, to be continued only in the same part and also the same rhythm position in the bar (measure) makes the use even more effective, points out the purposeful setting.
(In my interpretation - using standard tuning - is use the A string for the first time in this Sarabande for the B-A-C-H citation, lending it prominence).

The Sarabande of Suite 5 is written in a different style than all other Sarabandes.
As a composition it is very minimalistic. It is the only one without any double stop and also without a suggestion of ornaments in the 18th century autographs.
It is also written in a much simpler rhythm than the other Sarabandes. Without doubt it takes a special position.
We don't know the reason behind.

I have read the suggestion that it is written in memory of the death of his first wife, Anna Barbara. I haven't found any indication.
As a composer, putting letters into music, Bach would not have missed out using A and B (for Anna Barbara) as a significant part of a theme, but he didn't use it.
I wrote out the whole movement in German music notation letters in an attempt to discover a deeper meaning.
So far nothing clear has emerged.
(The only reference I discovered was in the bass theme of the 3rd and 4th last bar A, then B (Anna Barbara?), then G and C.
I checked old engravings on grave stones using the letters G and C, but couldn't find anything conclusive neither in German or Latin;
without having discovered an underlying meaning we can only assume, notes are used in a musical instead of a symbolic sense).

 


/
Sarabande 5, bar 13/14 (standard tuning)


(with scordatura): the B - A - C - H theme is obscured. (Werner Icking edition)

The B - A - C - H theme in the Gavotte 1 and the Gigue:


In Gavotte 1 we find rather a reference, more pulled apart than in the Sarabande, the first two 1/8 of bar 26 and 27.
Note: bar 26 is 2 x 13, the bar number of the first notes of the theme in the Sarabande). (Werner Icking edition)

In the Gigue we find the theme embracing the bar lines to bar 48 and 50, each time the note before and after the bar line.
For a reader the use of the theme might look a bit farfetched, but as a player you can hear it clearly. All citations of the theme are in the top melody, exposed and easy to hear.


Gigue 5, bar 48 to 50 (Werner Icking edition, standard tuning)

The Scordatura in Suite No 5

The earliest surviving copy is in standard tuning, by Johann Kellner, a friend of Bach, who couldn't play the cello. It seems to me unlikely he would have been able to copy an original in scordatura and know, which notes to write a tone lower and which ones not. It is rather plausible, that there existed an original with standard tuning (the same as in today's editions printed as: "sound edition".)

I construct here a possible scenario, which seems to make some sense to me, but of course, there is no proof for any of the assumed historical order of events:
It occurred to me, might Bach have used the B A C H theme, but thought later, he might reserve it for a larger purpose - the Art of Fugue.
Might a thought like this have occurred to him, when he transcribed suite 5 for lute, an instrument, which is tuned mainly in fourths?
We might never know - but it seems strange that Bach used the theme B - A - C - H , and then obscured it instead of pointing it out.

The assumption of mine is:
After having cited the theme of his name B A C H 4 times in Suite 5, Bach might have done a strange thing:
he obscured the use of the theme by writing the suite out again with a scordatura; this means the top string A is tuned down to a G.
That means anyone reading and playing the suite does not read the citation - but "only" plays it.
Maybe somehow Bach tricked us.
Every use of the theme is on the top string - the retuned one.
Every single note of the theme is consequently written in "wrong" notes, meaning if we read an "A" (open string) we play a "G" (open string).
All notes on the top "G" string sound one tone lower as written.
The B A C H theme has turned into the: C - B natural - D - C# theme (sounding: Bb - A - C - B natural, or in German: BACH).

Might it also be, that the first original, from which Kellner had copied, had been thrown away by Bach, after he had rewritten the suite for GDGC tuning with the scordatura? - making it hard for us to discover the hidden secret?

The confusing shift through the scordatura explains why I haven't found any reference yet to the B A C H theme used in Suite 5, although he used it 4 times!
(therefore I decided to use in my latest recording standard tuning).

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

PRELUDE

Prelude 5 is written in the classic form of a French Overture with a slow introduction in 4/4 with full chords and dotted rhythm followed by a faster Fughetta, here in 3/8.
I always feel, Prelude 5 and up to the Courante could be music written for an orchestra.
The chords convey a grandness, the bass solo enters and when the melody is taken up in the upper register it could well be an oboe in one of the orchestral suites.
Even the start of the fast section reminds of the Suite in B minor rather than of another solo piece except for the organ.

The slow Introduction - 4/4

All long slurs are written for phrasing. It is up to the cellists to divide according to their own taste.
I compare here the manuscript of Anna Magdalena and the Lute transcription in Bach's own handwriting, bar 1.



Prelude 5 bar 1 (left) Anna Magdalena's manuscript - (right) Bach's own handwriting in the lute transcription.
(The clefs are alto (viola) and bass, key is G minor)
The slurring / phrasing looks identical. On the lute though one can only slur a couple of notes.
To demonstrate the fact more I show here as well a copy of bar 23 - 25 in the lute edition.



Prelude 5 bar 23 - 25. Bach's own handwriting in the lute transcription. 3 bars slurred for phrasing.

The Fughetta - in 3/8; faster tempo, contrasting (Bach's tempo indication in the lute transcription is "tres viste" - very fast / lively)

I feel, in the starting theme, that the upper 2 notes continue in the next upper section interrupted by the 3 bass notes.
When I hum the melody, these bass notes turn out as standing back, the top notes pushing out.
The first slur is written in bar 32, and I feel no slur should occur earlier.
Throughout the part of the Fughetta we can find the tendency, that scale like passages in 1/16 are slurred, up and down movements are played without slur.

This changes in the next section, where the up and down movement turns into rather parallel lines set in rising alternation as a variety of the starting theme (bar 72 & 74).
This section ends in the Eb major chord bar 79. The end of the section should come out as a point to breath and not be rushed over.



Prelude 5 bar 71 - 75, manuscript C. Rising parallels, 2 slurred.

In the following section we find the 1/8 theme set alternating with a upper note, constant for a bar.
The slur emphasizes the rhythm of the theme in 3 x 1/8.
The added constant note above the theme adds a new dynamic dimension, as if a second instrument enters.
For me it means this section is stronger than the preceding.
The strongest impact of this section has the then sudden entrance of the solo bass in 1/8, bar 102.
If we have a chance to play this movement in a larger hall, the sudden echo will send us the message: here is a climax.



Prelude bar 79 - 85, Anna Magdalena's manuscript.

It is impossible to go through each bar and all the possibilities.
I wish to select just two more important spots, which shouldn't be missed:

Bar 182 could easily be the second last bar followed by the last chord.
There is the whole build up and preparation for the end, but is replaced by an interrupted cadence.
In German we call the interrupted Cadence a "deceptive ending or treacherous ending"
To get the full effect we need to prepare bar 182 as if we want to finish the piece, forte, big ritardando and all.
Then we deceive and continue as by total surprise in piano and gradually built up again.



The "deceptive ending" in bar 182 (manuscript C)

In bar 214 - 220 the bass note rises preparing dramatically the final ending.
After the C got established having been repeated on the first beat 6 times, it rises from over Eb E F & F# to the dominant G.
Following is quasi a little organ solo in the upper register followed by the dominant chord and the variant of the tonic: a C major chord.
(It is interesting, that in the lute edition the last chord is C minor! Would it be too heavy for the cello?)
In our interpretation we should dynamically follow the rising scale in the bass, not starting too strong as we have to sustain the whole development.
I keep the last 2 notes of the "organ solo" on the C string to have a change of colour for the last 2 orchestral chords with the open string in the bass.



Bar 215 to the end (manuscript C) I circeled the rising scale in the bass.
See also indicated the comma before the last chords and the preceding 2 notes on the C string

 

 

ALLEMANDE (click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Allemandes are in 4/4 with up beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent.
The THIRD beat is felt strong, but is commonly a soft ending, whereas strong endings are on One or also on FOUR.
The soft THREE is strong felt, but little heard.
If the ending is on FOUR, the THIRD beat gains some heaviness.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

The Allemande of Suite 5 seems to flow less than of Suites 1 - 4. Instead of flowing 1/16 we find a dotted rhythm very much reminding of the first part of the Prelude.
As an Allemande the 1/16 should not be fast, not rush.
This Allemande has a very strong 1/4 feeling, of which we need to be aware before starting.
How often have I heard the first chord held not long enough, and how effective is it to hold it and feel the rhythm!

There seems to exist a neverending problem with the bowings.
The manuscripts and prints always slur different groups, there doesn't seem to be any consistency.
I came finally to the conclusion, that a regular bow - beat 1 and 3 on down; beat 2 and 4 on up bow - sounds clear and gives a relief to the memory.
To my surprise I found literally my bowing in the edition of Werner Icking again (see below line 1).



A simple and musical solution for bowing (here: Werner Icking / standard tuning): regularly (usually) a 1/4 per bow independent of note values, putting beat 1 & 3 on down bow and beat 2 & 4 on up bow.

It might be interesting to know, that in the lute edition the first groups of 3/16 in bar 1 - after the tie to the 1/4 - is written as 3/32, double dotted!
It may be, that Bach felt, the slower pace suits the cello more.
Some think, all tied 1/16 should be followed with a double dotted phrase, as it is assumed by some, that the French Overture was performed, even if it was not written.
I think though, because Bach actually wrote it, it shouldn't apply, when he didn't write it.

Bach's original! His own handwriting of his transcription for lute. The clefs are alto (viola) and bass, key is G minor.
As a guitar player I must say, it is impossible to read and it is no wonder, it didn't become very popular.
Interesting is the double dotting of all 3/16 groups after a tie converted to 3/32.

The last 4 bars of the Allemande rather remind of an opera aria than of a movement of a Suite.

The melody is left hanging on the G7 chord, where I recommend a pause.
It follows a solo in the bass, which sounds like organ pedal or orchestral bass, until the melody picks up the B from before, but only to finish premature again.
Then Bach inserts typical recitativo chords followed by the proper ending, like in an aria.
Like typical of the Allemande, the last bar starts with the C, the same note as the last chord. The triad is to be played slower - traditionally the dancing couple turned towards each other and boughed.



Allemande, the last 2 lines (Werner Icking edition, with scordatura)
I indicated by hand the recommended pause and the typical recitativo cadence.

 

 


COURANTE
(click here for history / characteristics)


Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

Courante's are often in 3/4 except 3/2 here in Suite 5.
They all start with an up beat.
All three beat can be felt distinctly.
The main accent is on ONE.
TWO and THREE have a minor accent, of which THREE is slightly stronger.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

The 3/2 Courante's are slower than the 3/4 Courante's, literally "slow hesitant" as the Bach student Mattheson describes it.
The tempo compares to the Courante in Lute Suite No 1, which are virtually identical in character.
In this Courante the fast divisions in a later section limits the tempo and sets a slower speed for the whole movement .

In the 3/2 the beat on each 1/2 is heavier than the beat in the 3/4, slowing down the tempo, forming a gentle dance;
each note of the 1/8 has melodic importance, more than the runs and arpeggios in the 3/4 Courante's.
(The Courante of Lute Suite 1 suits the cello; the transcription will appear here in late 2012)

The Courante of cello suite V displays throughout a wonderful bass line, a melody flow as beautiful as in a Choral.
I circled the start of the bass line, a simple C minor scale beginning, before it returns to the tonic and moves freer (see below)
The interpretation gains in beauty when the bass line can be followed by the listener.



The C minor scale in the bass line at the start of the Courante (Doerffel / Bach Gesellschaft)

Again, the choice of bowing should be not too complicated and show comfort and regularity.
In the example above by Doerffel I feel the main feature is to end up in down bow on the first beat.
The length of slurs / the amount of separated strokes is a matter of taste. It depends also on how our instrument / technique copes with separated strokes regarding bow change noise.

The B-A-C-H theme is used preparatory in the Courante, its centrepiece is in the Sarabande and is "mentioned" in the Gavotte and Gigue.
It occurs here in the Courante in bar 22, in the melody, preparing the C minor tonic, from which a melodic minor scale descends to the end of the movement.
The positioning for the theme is so strangely set before the descent, that it looks like: it announces something more, it is heralding the main feature.



Courante, bar 22 (standard tuning), heralding the BACH theme before winding using the complete scale of C minor in the melody as if stating:
let's wind down here and focus on the next movement - the Sarabande - it will be important. (Werner Icking edition).
The citation can be made musically clear by setting a comma after the BACH theme (as indicated) before the C starts the descent of a complete scale.

Just a remark to the unusual syncopated end figures in this Courante. Don't they remind of the end of the song of the blackbird?

 

 


SARABANDE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Sarabandes are in 3.
All Sarabandes start on the first beat.
The Sarabande has 2 main accents, on ONE and on TWO.
Both accents are even; in some Sarabandes the ONE is stronger, in others the TWO.
A good indicator is the use of double/triple stops on the strong accent.
The THIRD beat has no accent.
Micro-dynamic units are one bar and sometimes 2 bars.

This Sarabande is one of the most fascinating movements of the 6 Suites, written in a different style than all other Sarabandes.
As a composition it is minimalistic. It is the only one without any double stop and without a suggestion of ornaments in all of the 18th century manuscripts.
It is also written in a much simpler rhythm than the other Sarabandes.

As mentioned above, this particular simple structured Sarabande includes the name of BACH in (German) note names.
This citation is used preparatory in the Courante and mentioned in the following Gavotte and Gigue.
I need to mention here Bach's fascination with numbers and their symbolic use.
If we give the letters BACH a number for their position in the alphabet (2+1+3+8), Bach's name ads up to 14. He identified with this number and used it frequently.
In this Sarabande we find the theme as the anacrusis to bar 14 - the last two 1/8 of bar 13 - followed by the last two 1/8 of bar 14, interrupted by the bass part.

Bach was a polyphonic thinker and we need to think in parts: top part, melody - sometimes middle part - and bass.
The continuation of the theme does not cross over from one part to the other, stays within the same part.
The break of the top melody, to be continued only in the same part and also the same rhythm position in the bar (measure) makes the use even more effective, points it out.
Without doubt it takes a special position. We don't know the reason behind.
I have read the suggestion, that it is written in memory of the death of his first wife, Maria Barbara.

I think Bach woyuld have left some musical / numerical mark in the Sarabande as he did setting the BACH theme in bar 14.
I wrote the whole movement out in German music notation letters in an attempt to discover the deeper meaning. So far nothing clear to me has emerged.
Here is the Sarabande in German music letters. I would be so interested, if anyone can find a clue.

 


/
Sarabande 5, bar 13/14 (left - standard tuning) / bar 13/14 (right - with scordatura); the BACH theme is obscured in the scordatura. (Werner Icking editions)

There are quite different bowing ideas for this Sarabande, already in the manuscripts.
Unlike other movements of the 6 Suites we have only 3 manuscripts of this Sarabande, Kellner omitted the movement (and also the Gigue except the first 9 bars).
Anna Magdalena shows (again) a different bowing than all others: one single note plus 3 slurred. It seems to me, this is again a correction made by Johann Sebastian, as he stood beside her, changing his mind on the basis of the result he has heard so far.
Usually Kellner can confirm, that Anna Magdalena is a diversion from the first original, but his copy is missing.

However, manuscript "C", "D" and Cotelle show the same bowings (excusing the usual mistakes in Cotelle in the later lines), always 2 slurred except in bar 1.
Dotzauer and Doerffel show the bowing of 4 slurred amd one bow for the last beat.

The different bowing are:



(left) Manuscript C, D and here Cotelle slur always 2/8 except in bar 1 (4/8).
(right) here Dotzauers print (also Doerffel) 4 slurred plus the last beat 1/4 or 2/8.



One single note and 3 slurred (Anna Magdalena), so it seems; but referring to the Gigue C major (see above) it might also mean: just slur the group (of 4/8).



Bach's own hand writing of the lute version: 4 slurred (the lute can't slur) confirming Anna Magdalena's writing means: just slur the group.
Although in bar 4 & 5 the first note is clearly separated, belonging to the bass part, but there all other 5 notes under one phrasing bow.

To the interpretation:
I chose for my recording on Youtube the bowings of Anna Magdalena.
After I recorded for Youtube the Icking / Gruemmer / Anna Magdalena version - or what I believed was Anna Magdalena - I saw the original Bach lute manuscript.
The interesting part is, the lute can't slur (except neigbouring notes).
That means the remark above about Anna Magdalena: " just slur the group" is true.
It is a misunderstanding to study her manuscript with forensic magnifying glasses.
She indicates casually, that's it.
It means also, that Bach indicated here phrasing, and not necessarily a technical slur as I will explain.

The essence of the interpretation though does not lie in the bowing, but in the micro-dynamic phrasing of the bar and noticing the macro-dynamic of 4 bar units..
The first and second beat needs emphasis, the third beat is quiet, the audible end of the phrase.
Also, units of 4 bars describe athe larger dynamic shape.
The Sarabande starts with an ascent in the first 3 bars; a similar phrase is repeated, each time starting higher, like a repeated and each time more emphasized call.
Then in bar 4 the phrase declines, calming down.

(We find in German fairy tales a stunningly parallel setup - as in the dynamic development of melodies - in stories like that:
"The first son is sent out to make his fortune. He comes back after a short trip and made a bit.
Then the second son is sent out. He travels a bit longer and makes more.
Then the third son is sent out. He travels the whole kingdom and further (even modulates) takes a long journey and brings home treasures from the world".)
Vivaldi too often uses this build up pattern of a theme.

To bring out the micro-dynamic in each bar, the bowing poses actually a difficulty, if we use the phrasing as a bowing guide.
By using the bowing of Dotzauer / Doerffel we would need to produce on the third beat a softer sound with double the bow speed than on the first two beats.
This is against the nature of sound production.
Playing the slurs like the phrasing bow would counteracts bringing out the phrasing instead of supporting or reflecting it!

That means I ended up using actually manuscript "C", "D", Cotelle's bowing: In bar one bowing like all mark it, 4 slurred plus 2 slurred.
From then on: a slur per beat, 2/8 or 1/4.
Cellists of the time must have felt the conflict between phrasing and bowing and corrected the phrasing bow as a slur.

 

 


GAVOTTE'S
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

Gavottes are in 2/2 or 4/4 and all start with an upbeat of 2/4 (1/2).
The main accent is on ONE.
The other accent is on THREE.
Both are strong beats.
Even if written in 4/4, the feeling is 2/2.
TWO and FOUR have just an upbeat character and no accent of their own.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar or even half a bar.

A dance in 2/2 or 4/4 (Anna Magdalena 2/2, manuscript "C" 4/4), always starting on the 3rd (1/4) beat.
The Gavotte was known to be a lively dance and is related to the word "cavort", wild jumping about.

The Gavotte's have an interesting harmonic layout, which is unusual, perhaps "cavort".
I couldn't find general information on this subject, but it seems, Bach put by purpose things in a "cavort" manner:
The carrying harmony is set unlike all other movements not on beat ONE, but on the Third beat.
The second half of Gavotte I, starts with a G minor Dominant chord, going towards the major Tonic in a piece, where the tonic is C minor.
It seems to me as if Bach put like in the Cantatas meaning into the chords: "cavort" is expressed by turning the modes of major and minor back to front
- the crazy dance, where rules are offended in a masterly way.

GAVOTTE 1

Gavotte 1 has a bit edgy feeling, very unsmooth. I feel in many bars it has like Bourree 3 an emphasis on 4 and 1 alternating with 2 , 3 weaker like a dance with 2 heavy steps followed by 2 less strong, little steps.
This small phrasing is set against longer phrases like in bar 8 from the 2nd beat to the next 1 or at the end of the section, the last 7 beats before the repeat are a close unit.



Gavotte 1 bar 8 - 12 (Dotzauer). the brackets indicate the shorter and longer phrases.
The gaps in between are the less strong dance steps.
Note in the last full bar the counter movement between melody and bass, graphically describing a diminuendo.

The second part of Gavotte 1 starts full chorded, but moves to a soft playful section in bar 17.
In bar 17 - 19 we need to bring out the first note as it is the stepping stone moving each bar forward: D - Eb - F to again a strong rhythmical section.
The triple chords in this section, bar 20 -22, are heavy steps, can be played with two subsequent down bows, even followed by another down bow to start the next group of 2 x 2 1/8.



Gavotte 1 last line.
Note the descent in the first 4 figures of 4/8 indicating a diminuendo.
As in part one in the example above the last 7 beats form again one phrase.

In the Gavotte I we find as before in the Courante and Sarabande a reference to Bach's name in bar 26/ 27.
As mentioned in the Sarabande the centre of the citation is the Sarabande; the citation in the gavotte is like rather like a reference.



In Gavotte 1 we find rather a reference, more pulled apart than in the Sarabande, the first two 1/8 of bar 26 and 27. (Werner Icking edition)

GAVOTTE 2

In the Suites 4 - 6 Bach decide to contrast the dances in pairs not with a shift from major to minor but just in character.
Where as gavotte I is about the edgiest dance in the 6 Suites, Gavotte 2 is the smoothest.
It is not quite clear if the indication of a slur just refers to the triplet unit, but also to a technical slur.
But whatever is meant here, this movement needs slurs.
I have tried it with slurs of 3 and could never get it as convincing than with longer slurs (I slur 6).
I also find, this Gavotte needs in contrast to Gavotte 1 a lack of accents - so I start with a down bow to avoid the accent on the 1 of the first full bar.
I though play for clarity the triplets starting on a lower bass note in down bow (2nd beats of bar 6 and 12).

Bar 15 to 17 Bach writes a single 1/8 alternating with a slur of 5 notes. Like in many places, this unequal bowing pattern sounds fine when played with a Baroque bow, but can sound out of place with the modern Bow.
Many players slur the single note to the former bow.

 

 


GIGUE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Gigue's start with 1/8 upbeat.
The time signatures of the Gigue's are the most diverse ones.
The basic unit is a 3/8.
Suite 2,3 and 5 are in 3/8.
The accents are on ONE and a smaller one on THREE.
But we mainly feel in the Gigue the pulse of the 3/8 unit as one beat (we could not tap our foot continuously 3 times per bar).
Very commonly micro-dynamic unit compasses 2 bars, of which the first bar is stronger with a strong ONE;
in the second bar we feel the accent, but it is heard as a soft note.

Many Gigue's are written in 6/8.
Since Gigue of Suite 5 is written in 3/8, most performers today chose a slower than usual tempo of a typical Gigue.
To make up for the lack of flow, but add character, the players double dot the rhythm, which gives this Gigue a nearly grotesque character.
To emphasize this character the movement is played loud and unfortunately lacks flow.
I feel, the speed needs to be quite fast, the same as we are used from the 6/8 Gigues.

We must also not forget, that the Suite is inspired by dances of different countries.
The Gigue (Jig) we know from Irish and Scottish fiddle music is still common.
Many classical performers perform this Gigue as if they have never ever heard a Jig, and play it like second part of a French Overture.
Bach surely wanted the true character of the dance.
So lets keep that in mind and allow a quite fast and flowing tempo.

Against the double dotting speaks also, that in Bach's transcription for lute (an original, which survived) the rhythm is partly more complex.
These details require a stricter and even rhythm without double dotting.



Bach's original hand writing (!) in his transcription for lute (bar 10 - 17). The clefs are alto (viola) and bass, the key is G minor.
As you can see, the groups of 3/16 are accompanied by a bass on the 3rd 1/8, which requires to play the Gigue strict in rhythm - no double dotting.

In the first part we find - as usual - one of Bach's hidden scales, which run like the main construction through the music, guiding the dynamic shape.
(I will use here the real (sounding) note names)
Bar 8 starts with G, bar 10 starts with Ab, bar 12 with Bb.
From here on the development is more condensed, in bar C in bar 13, D in bar 14 rising to the climax Es in bar 15.
From there on the melody virtually tumbles playfully down - like a ball hopping on stairs - back to G, but one octave lower.

Gigue V , bar 8 - 15. The "hidden" rising scale is circled by me (Werner Icking, sound notation / standard tuning)

In the Gigue we find the theme of B A C H in German note names embracing the bar lines to bar 48 and 50, each time the note before and after the bar line.
For a reader the use of the theme might look a bit farfetched, but as a player you can hear it clearly. All citations of the theme are in the top melody, exposed and easy to hear.
(See also the Courante, Sarabande and Gavotte of Suite 5 for the series of the citations of Bach's name)



Gigue 5, bar 48 to 50, the B - A - C - H theme (Werner Icking edition, standard tuning)




For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com

DONATION: A contribution to this project would be appreciated.


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Suite No. VI

Key: D major

Difficulty: The most difficult of all Suites.
Grade 9-10 out of 10

Character: Exuberant happiness, a feeling of confidence, a secure belief in oneself.
When playing this Suite I find myself walking afterwards around the house whistling and humming the movements, elevated into a state of inner peace and happiness.
Despite that serious practice is essential for this Suite, it is worthwhile. It is one of the works one can play without ever getting tired of.

 

The original Set up

Cello Suite No 6 is written for a 5 stringed cello.
Some historians believe it was not written for cello, but for a viola pomposa, played held up and not between the knees.
I believe it was written and meant for cello, simply because Bach and all manuscripts list the Suite amongst the cello Suites.
It would have been a major flaw by all manuscript writers to include Suite 6, when it was not meant for cello - and this is very unlikely.
Another reason for the argument that it was firstly not written for cello is meant to be, that the alto clef is often used.
This argument is very weak, because the bass clef is used very frequently as well.
Bach often used the combination of bass and alto clef - as in the lute Suites - instead of using the tenor clef, as Vivaldi did.
It may just be, that the Tenor as an instrument was more frequent in Italy, where as in Germany the viola was more frequent.

(the tenor is tuned one octave lower than the violin, strings E-A-D-G, held between the knees in size like a 1/2 size cello.
The tenor clef was a handy clef for cellist: reading the tenor clef and playing the tenor, it read like the bass clef and playing the cello - playing the open top string looked and felt the same).

What surely a fact is, that Bach was a viola player (his first job was as an orchestral viola player) and very familiar with this cleff, where as the tenor clef is until today only familiar to cellists.

The argument that virtually no cello with 5 strings has survived does not mean much in my opinion.
At Bach's time all instruments were made individually and individual requirements were common, either just the size or also an extra string.
With the invention of the new bow and a higher bridge around 1800 virtually all necks - and usually scrolls - were gradually replaced.
If there had been some instruments with 5 strings around, very likely with the replacement of the neck the instrument would have been "normalized".
Unfortunately we don't even know for whom the Suites were written or who would have played them.

It has also been said, that Bach himself might have played cello Suite No 6 on the viola pomposa himself.
I think this is very likely; but also very likely Bach played many if not all movements on the viola or viola pomposa (as my father played cello Suite 1 on the viola), as the pieces are very beautiful and he was master of the instrument.
He played many of his own compositions and works of other composers on several instruments.
He enjoyed the differences of textures and many of his transcriptions have survived.

Suite 6 can only be played by a very advanced student / amateur or a professional.
Since the player must be already an accomplished musician, I will not go into as many details, which may be necessary to explain to a moderate student, but are common sense for the advanced cellist.



PRELUDE

An exuberant fast flowing introduction into D major.
It is one of the only two movements Bach indicated dynamics: bars are frequently written in repeated pairs, the first one strong, the second one an echo of the former one.

The only other movement in the 6 cello Suites , which develops out of one note is the Sarabande in D minor;
like here it splits away out of the note D, the traditional note and key of variations like in La Folia and the Chaconne. Only here it is in the major key, exuberant, positive.
Living today in Australia, this movement reminds me of a Didgeridoo, one note rhythmically repeated with little break away notes, which are part of the natural harmonics.

Prelude 6 has a sort of a theme, which is actually a quite complex reoccurring section - except when it occurs abbreviated at the end.
This "theme" section starts with a bar in forte, repeated in piano (literal echo), the bowing is in all editions and manuscripts 2 slurred, one single note, down bow on the beginning of the beat.
The next 2 bars have the same pattern of forte / piano, but the bowing is: one single note, 2 slurred followed by a slur of 3/8.
Some editions show already here only slurs of 3/8.


Prelude Suite 6, manuscript "D"
We can see the dynamic indications "po" for piano and "for" for forte.
Of course bar 1 has no indication (the forte is missing) although bar 2 indicates the echo, because there is not enough space.
You understand that, surely? So hopefully does everyone.
Manuscripts are not written for bureaucrats, but friends; everything is fine, everything understood.
These 3 patterns of bowing is the most common option.

The next bars are all slurs of 3/8 to the beginning of the theme a fifth higher bar 12 - 16 etc.
The thematic pattern occurs again bar 54 - 59 etc and should follow the same bowing pattern.
The theme occurs abbreviated 90 - 93, including the forte / piano effect..

Often overlooked, the thematic pattern occurs also abbreviated in bars 23 / 24, half of bar 25 / 2nd half of bar 25, half of bar 26 / 2nd half of bar 26, bar 27 / 28, and first half of bar 29 / 2nd half of bar 29, first half of bar 30, 2nd part of bar 30.
This whole section should all have the bowing of bar 1, or it doesn't make sense. The manuscripts and editions are here all over the place, but the musical content is very straightforward.
I think it is unfortunately one of the places, where the content got a bit lost, Kellner is unreadable, Anna Magdalena and D got it virtually right.
C seems messy, but if we consider his fast writing, the seemingly two slurs are actually a slur of 2 and a single note with a line on top.
C also indicates the dynamics, full bar and half bar.
Dotzauer as a practicing and publishing cellist got it right.
Cotelle got it so wrong, she changes the patterns in the middle and has also a 12 times piano followed by another piano without that there is neither effect or sense.
Although I find the passage musically and technically as having only one option, many print editions are here a mess and fail to make sense.


Prelude 6 bar 21 - 31 (manuscript "C"). The clef is alto.
Bowing pattern matching the beginning of the Prelude:
Bar 21 / 22 three slurred, one bar forte and one piano.
Bar 23 - 31, always 2 slurred and one single note with a line on top; it is messy written (in a rush), but not unclear in what he meant.
Underneath are the clear instructions of the forte and the following piano echoes.
Bach plays here with the thematic part of bar 1 / 2, sometimes in short sections of only half a bar.

For 77 continuous bars this Prelude has only one rhythm: 1/8 in 12/8, not one other note.
As a performer we might look out for some relief for the listener, some resting point.
The first one would be the arrival in B minor in bar 46. the first note should be prepared by a gentle rit. in the preceding bar.

As mentioned, the next break is the theme in bar 54. The bowing should be the same as bar 1 - 6 etc.
Again the theme has been prepared by 2 bars in the forte / piano pattern and 3 slurred, bar 52 / 53.

Bach uses in Suite 6 often an expression of an ascending line, including a crescendo, followed by a second ascending line and a crescendo.
In bar 60 starts this long development. Every 2 bars of nearly repeated patterns of one bar rises to the next level.
Bar 60 /61 is the first unit, it follows bar 62 / 63, the 64 / 65, then 66 / 67, then 68 and a big rise like to a climax.
Instead there is no climax, but the start of a new pattern, rising bar by bar from bar 70 to 74.
From here it winds gradually down including these sudden swirls up, just fitting in as many notes of a scale as happen to fit.
This new fast notes announce a new section, like a cadenza.

In my understanding the 1/16 passages are virtuosic, brilliant, but not forte.
The climax was bar 74 and, like in most cadenzas, leads back to the theme of the beginning.
The theme is the reappearing forte - and should not be anticipated - straight followed by the piano echo.

Following the theme is another play on repeated notes.
The rhythmical element of the theme, the accent on every first of 3/8 should be maintained during the section of 1/16.
Bar 96 / 97 again we should remember the rhythmical accents: The accent is on the first 1/8 (not the 3rd) of the first and 3rd beat
(in 1/8 expressed, the accents are on the 1st and 7th eighth).

After the set of chords - which every player interprets in their own way - I find the first note Din bar 100 needs some length, like the first note G of Prelude 1.
Although not indicated, I find the the second half of the bar with the 7th C seems to me like an echo, commanding to be taken back.
The strong sound is picked up the following bar.
Many players finish the movement in piano.
Of course it tumbles down from the high D; but then, nothing indicates a change.
To finish in forte would be wrong, the last forte was on the ONE of bar 103, but the last chord is broad, expanded.
It reminds me of a finishing organ or harpsichord piece, finishing as it goes, no piano effect, no change of dynamic, just a little gentle slow down.


 


ALLEMANDE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Allemandes are in 4/4 with up beat.
The main accent is on ONE.
The SECOND beat has no accent.
The THIRD beat is felt strong, but is commonly a soft ending, whereas strong endings are on One or also on FOUR.
The soft THREE is strong felt, but little heard.
If the ending is on FOUR, the THIRD beat gains some heaviness.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

The Allemande of Suite 6 is the only movement, which includes a tempo indication: molto adagio.
Usually Allemandes are not played in this slow speed, and the indication shows, that the title "Allemande" is here taken as an art form, rather a background idea than a dance.
The movement shows signs of a freedom like an improvisation, like a singer would do, rather removed from strict timing.
We find this style, which appears here for the first time in the cello suites - perhaps prepared in some aspects in the second part of Prelude 4 - further developed in the introductory Adagio and Grave of the solo Sonatas 1 & 2 for violin.


The title "molto adagio" appears in all manuscripts except in Anna Magdalena's. The clef is alto (here manuscript "C").

Although the slowness of the tempo might be too stretched to feel the 1/4 beat as in a dance, it supplies us with a frame work with a bass note reliably placed on beat 1 and 3.
Since all players of this movement must be advanced, I feel everyone will have their own ideas about preferences in bowings.
But I might add, that the slowness of the movement tells us not to start dramatic or forte, but keep the character virtually calm and free.

In bar 8 as typical for the Allemande the first and last note of the bar are the same, the dominant A in part 1, the tonic D in part 2, as usual ( there are somehow often mistakes in different editions).
After having sounded the first note the dynamic and speed should decline - time for the dancing couple to bough.

Part 2:

As shown in the passage below, the slow tempo of the Allemande rests upon a simple bass figure, like here a scale.
The main character of the movement is free like an improvisation.
Bach links this freedom to a simple bass pattern, which is combined with the strong beats of the Allemande, the 1st and 3rd beat and rarer the other beats.
It is essential for the interpretation to make the bass pattern heard.
It supplies the listeners with ease and solidness, as a carrier for the up in the high air melodies.
This character of the 6th Allemande applies to the whole movement, although the example here is from the second part.


The beginning of part 2 of Allemande 6, bar 9 - 12 (Doerffel / Bach-Gesellschaft).

I circled the "hidden scale" A-G-F#-E-D-C-B-A-G#, more than an octave step by step leading down.
The descending scale is not that obvious, because of the leap to an octave higher in the bar 10.
I found always the surprise C in the following bar sounding as if it came out of nowhere and also went nowhere as another octave leap follows.
I wondered if Bach did that in bar 10 (again) to make it easier for the cellist:
in the short note values he didn't trust to put a chord and by having 5 strings to manage he didn't trust the cellist to bring the note on the lower string correctly except the easy open C string.
Assuming that I am right I decided in the repeat to play the bass notes in bar 10 an octave lower, no problem with today's strings and only 4 of them.
I imagine - and hope to be right - Bach would have approved.
Not only the C appears suddenly logical, even the following B can easily be recognized by the listener as belonging to the descending scale.

 

 


COURANTE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

Courante's are in 3/4 except 3/2 in Suite 5.
They all start with an up beat.
All three beat can be felt distinctly.
The main accent is on ONE.
TWO and THREE have a minor accent, of which THREE is slightly stronger.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar, in the Courante's of Suite 3, 4 and 6 also 2 bars.
In this case the ONE of the "off bar" has a soft accent, felt, but little heard.

The Courante from Suite 6 stands out by having unusually long phrases or following sequences in the same direction.
In tempo it is relatively slow, if we tap the speed of the 1/4.
The impression of a fast and lively movement is achieved by the runs of 1/16 and the accents on every 1/4.

The first phrase finishes only with the second note of bar 8 (a weak TWO), the same as in bar 12 and subsequent locations
The first 2 bars and the last (6 & 7) melt together as a unit.
In the dynamic we feel the strong beat and go up and down with the melody notes of the beat.

Quite typical and unusual for this Courante is also, that often a ascending phrase is followed by another ascending phrase.
Bar 9, 10 and 11 each bar unit rises, finishing in bar 12.
The unit of bar 12/13 is the followed again by a rising unit of bar 13/14.
The stronger is the effect to "calm down" into faster runs (!), which end up forte in the former rhythm.
Typical for Suite 6, the forte bar is followed by an (not literal) echo, the same as in part 2 bar 64/65.

Part 2

Part 2 starts with a short cut of part 1, in the dominant.
Bach takes the structure of bar 1 /2 & 11/12, enough to remind of the character of the movement and leaves the dominant already in bar 34.
Although bar 34 starts in a low pitch of the new theme, the 2 bar sequences descend even further until it swirls up to bar 41, then calming down to the end of the phrase.

Bar 49/50 we should not miss the composed in accents on each beat, but descending to bar 51.
As can be seen in the example below, bar 51 / 52 one bar units ascend in dynamic and pitch.
It follows the one bar units 53 / 54 again ascending in dynamic and pitch.
Bar 55 / 56 again 2 one bar units follow ascending in dynamic and pitch!
Climax is the first beat of bar 57 , the second beat is weaker - although higher, but the second beat is the weak beat.
It follows 2 bars with a rhythmically simpler first beat, strongly accentuated and followed again by a higher and weaker 2nd beat.
As in part 1 (bar 14) the accentuation "calms down" into fast runs.


Typical for Courante 6: several sequences following each other in the same direction in pitch and dynamics.
Here bar 51 & 52, then 53 & 54, then 55 & 56 to the climax 57.

As to bowings:

All manuscripts indicate in the "calm runs" (bar 15 - 19 and 60 - 63 ) a slur of 4/16.
I found with our bow today slurs of one bar, 12/16 just sound better, and many performers use it.

 


SARABANDE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Sarabandes are in 3, Suite 1 - 5 in 3/4, Suite 6 in 3/2.
All Sarabandes start on the first beat.
The Sarabande has two main accents, on ONE and on TWO.
Both accents are even; in some Sarabandes the ONE is stronger, in others the TWO.
A good indicator is the use of double/triple stops on the strong accent.
The THIRD beat has no accent.
Micro-dynamic units are one bar and sometimes 2 bars.

In rhythm, harmony and keynote this Sarabande starts like "La Folia" or a Chaconne, but in major.
Most of Bach's pieces show in rhythm and harmony an earthiness, probably more than any other composer.
But this movement ascends into a cloud of sweetness, like in suspense, floating.

Details:

As to playing chords meant to work on a 5 string cello for a 4 string cello:
Which note should we eliminate, when it is impossible to play all?
In general, the note to eliminate is the one, which is doubled up.
Like in bar 2 we have 2 G's, B and E. We eliminate the second G in the middle.
We need to remember, that on the cello (or in fact violin) we can't really skip a string.
That means for the composer, all strings in between the important notes must be played - we can't skip them.
That means also, not all notes might be important.
In general, the outer notes are important.
The inner notes are sometimes not important at all; we can see that, when they have no relating note the middle part comes from or leads to.
Even if we can play them, we can virtually skip over them.
Of the inner notes the doubled up ones are the first to give a miss or the ones, which seem to appear on a string and come and go from and to nowhere.

In bar 2 and 3 the 2/4 are accompanied with consistent triple chords of 1/2.
The interpretation must be, that these 2/4 melody notes are slurred and both on the A string - as is the first 12/4 of the next bar.
In bar 6 only the bottom two notes of the triple accompaniment chord are 1/2 notes.
I interpret, that therefore the melody note, written as a 1/4 is not held, but the middle part is actually 2/4, both on the D string.
The actual melody continues on the A string with the last 1/4 of the bar, the E.

Part 2:

The large chords at the beginning, bar 9 and 10 have in the bass A, G and F#.
I would love to play in the bass the F# clearly perceivable for the listener one octave lower, on the C string.
I believe like in the Allemande, Bach felt limited by the clumsiness of the 5 string instrument to cross too far and have too many notes in the middle, too many for just 4 fingers to reach them.

We find in part 2 at many places a melody note left in space, suspended to be picked up quite a time distance later.
The first time this happens in bar 13, the C, held a bit longer - to indicate a wish to be held even longer - is only picked up in bar 14.
I recommend to keep actually the3rd finger down to keep the absolute intonation.
The C then drops to the B.
An interlude in the lower parts intercepts, until in the last note of bar 16 the B is literally picked up again.
Here follows one of the most beautiful sequences in the Suites.
The micro dynamic is a diminuendo over 2 bars. Like in bar 1, the rhythm is 1/2 followed by a dotted 1/2 (3/4) and a 1/4 note, not three 1/2 beats in the second bar of the unit.
We can read the macro dynamic in the top melody - I indicated the suspense with a dotted line.
The B descends to A, the to G and stays there like a pedal point in soprano!, moving in bar 23 and 24 to prepare the climax, back to the tonic.
The outer parts describe the graphic shape of a crescendo.

Once in the tonic, the fifth, A is held - a typical unearthly suspense - to be picked up in D minor and moving only then.
The second last bar implicates a diminuendo towards the last D major chord, full and fading away without the bass.


Sarabande 6, part 2, bar 17 - 24 (Werner Icking).
I indicated the pedal point like suspense in the top melody with the dotted line.
This melody line describes a gradual crescendo, a step dynamic, stepping down; each step includes also a diminuendo.

 

 


GAVOTTE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

Gavottes are in 2/2 or 4/4 and all start with an upbeat of 2/4 (1/2).
The main accent is on ONE.
The other accent on THREE.
Both are strong beats.
Even if written in 4/4, the feeling is 2/2.
TWO and FOUR have just an upbeat character and no accent of their own.
Micro-dynamic units are usually one bar.

The Gavotte's have an interesting harmonic layout, which is unusual, perhaps "cavort".
I couldn't find general information on this subject, but it seems, Bach put by purpose things in a "cavort" manner:
The carrying harmony is set unlike all other movements not on beat ONE, but on the Third beat
- the crazy dance, where rules are offended in a masterly way.

Gavotte 1

In speed like the Bourree, the accents are on 1 abd 3, the 2 and 4 are light, making the Gavotte a lighter dance than the Bourree.
In case of triple stops we can't accommodate as on the 3rd beat in bar 1, in general we play the outer notes and omit the middle note.
The middle note also goes nowhere in the following chord.
Although the melody rises on the 4th beat of bar 1, the "micro dynamic" tells us, that the character of the dance orders, that this rise of the melody is played diminuendo and not crescendo.

In bar 6 none of the manuscripts has a double stop on the first beat.
This indicates not only that it is no mistake, but also, that the last 4 bars of part 1 are played piano.

In bar 18 / 19 we have a parallel passage, the rising diminuendo phrase more extended..
The last note in bar 19 is the highest, but is comes on the 4th beat, which has no accent.
That indicates, the whole rise of the melody in bar 18/19 is diminuendo - like an ascending lark - disappearing; even the following ONE is not forte.
The forte reappears with the full chords of the theme in the second part of bar 20.

Gavotte 2

This Gavotte is written in 2/2; if we count in 4, the 2 and 4 have no accent.
As in Gavotte 1 all double stops used on the weak beats are transitional, have no dynamic strength.

Bar 8. Some editions write a C# in the bass. It is wrong, the note needs to be a D, even if the chord includes a major 7th clash.
It is written like this in all 4 manuscripts.
Bach liked sometimes these clashes; they are expressive and effective.
Here the D is kept like a pedal point; I find it indicates also, that the clash is forte (even includes a pause), the solution is softer.

Bar 12 to 20 we find a theme, imitating the bagpipe with a constant D in the bass.
The bowing, indicated by the length of the bass notes tells us:
bar 12 to 14 are forte, then follows a transition with a long slur in bar 16, which brings us to the very tip, a clear attempt to convince the player to stay for the following bars at the tip to play the repeat of the bagpipe theme in pianissimo.


Gavotte 2 (manuscript "C")
We can see in bar 8 the triple stop with the lowest not D, as in all manuscripts. The bar before describes a "graphic crescendo", preparing the clash of the major 7th.
The following clef is alto.
Bar 12 - 19, the manuscript writer did not write the slurs in, but the length of the bass notes indicates the slur length (I penciled a few in).
Bar 12 brings us naturally to down bow, handy for forte (and lots of bow!).
The semibreve in bar 16 though brings us naturally to the tip facilitating a piano or pianissimo (5cm of bow per 2/8 is enough)

 

 


GIGUE
(click here for history / characteristics)

Rhythmical dynamics: micro-dynamics, micro-phrasing (click here for more explanation)

All Gigue's start with 1/8 upbeat.
The time signatures of the Gigue's are the most diverse ones.
The basic unit is a 3/8.
The accents are on ONE and a smaller one on THREE.
But we mainly feel in the Gigue the pulse of the 3/8 unit as one beat (we could not tap our foot continuously 3 times per bar).

Suite 1 and 6 are written in 6/8.
The micro-dynamic unit is one bar or half a bar.

For me, this Gigue, the very last movement of the 6 cello Suites, is a pure expression of exuberant happiness,
dancing, playful, sometimes nearly cheeky and in bright harmonies and progressions.

Like the other Gigue in D (Suite 2) they both start with the melody notes A / D.
Also in speed they are virtually identical, not too fast, as groups of 1/16 have to be accommodated.

Details:

The first 4 bars are a unit, accents on one, the dynamics follow the melody.
As in the Prelude, Bach plays in this movement with Echo's.
Although best as a contrast already soft, bar 5 and 6 are repeated as an echo in bar 7/8 (of course always with the upbeat).

The thematic first part of bar 9 continues only with the first half of bar 11, then bar 13 and 14 and swirling up to the full bar 16.
These parts are interrupted by lower flowing elements - as I feel, always a bit in the background until to the big swirl bar 15.

Bar 17 starts as one of the long finishing notes or chords, which seemingly unexpected occur in this movement.
In the second part we encounter them in bar 53 and 54.
They feel like look ahead's to the big finale: listen, we come to the big end, don't dream, wake up!

In bar 21 an startlingly different character appears, repeated chords and lots of double stops, again repeated - nowhere to be found in the early part one.
In the second part of the Gigue we find towards the end the exact counterpart: the last 5 bars of part one and two are thematically identical.


Gigue of suite 6 (Werner Icking).
The micro-dynamic unit is here half a bar, like a Gigue in 3/8, but because it's a 6/8, the 3rd 1/8 does not have any importance.
Every first beat (of 3/8) has an accent, the other 2/8 are soft.
Bar 20 with upbeat starts piano despite the accent on 1.
The crescendo from bar 22 to introduce bar 24 is too obvious to miss and bar 24 starts forte - then purposefully stopped by the slur
- the original instructions are very effective (although often ignored, like here are dotted slurs of 2/16 suggested underneath).

Technical hint:
The double stop of E-A in bar 29 is played best with a flat 2nd finger over two strings.
The common 1st finger is pulled too much out of tune due to limitation of the touching the cello body.
Bar 46, 47; we should keep the 3rd finger if possible on the B to assure perfect intonation.


_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com

 

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THE BACH CELLO SUITES IN MY LIFE

When I was 11 years old I heard my father play Prelude No 1 on the viola - he was an amateur piano and viola player.
I remember running into our music room and asking him, what piece that is.
He showed it to me and said, that it was originally written for cello.
I asked than on which note it would start on cello; he told me, actually the same, but in the viola clef the G looks different.
He explained the difference to me and I asked for manuscript paper.
The same day I started to transcribe the Prelude.
I can't remember if I finished it, remember only having played the first half, because I had soon after my birthday and was given the sheet music of the Suites, Mainardi edition, plus his recording of Suite No 5.

My teacher didn't want me to try any movement of Suite 5, because he said only the great cellists play Suite 4, 5 and 6, us normal people play just Suite 1 - 3.
I nevertheless performed the Gigue in my school - the Gigue seemed alright to do - and my teacher asked me politely, if me cello teacher mentioned, that I need to correct at some spots the rhythm.
I admitted, that my teacher didn't want me to play anything of Suite 5.
I had skipped all the longer ties, much too long for a boy.
I had developed a passion for the Prelude of Suite 5.
I neglected the pieces I had to do for home work and practiced them usually only 20 minutes before the lesson, but I practiced daily for a few years Prelude 5.

I regret today very much, that my first teacher did not allow me to play even a note by memory.
He thought students would otherwise play by ear, which was despised, as amateurs could do that (?).
I missed noticing that I can actually repeat melodies, when I hear them or that I could improvise well, make up pieces on the spot in Baroque style.

As a child you do what you have to and the realization for your real qualities is not there.
What comes natural seems so natural, that it doesn't impress yourself and you don't even talk about it.
I found it normal, that before I was allowed to play cello - some local teacher let me to wait until I was nine, saying my hand was too small - that I played my favourite melodies of my brother's violin pieces on his violin.
This included the theme of Beethoven's violin concerto, when it appears in octaves - it sounded so nice and so I played it at the age of 8, knew nothing about bow hold or left hand. Didn't know you have to know that.
In my child's mind violin playing was not challenging, because you could do it without lessons.
I had wanted to play cello since I was 4 and was just waiting.
I could always improvise on the violin, still today, although I don't have one; on the cello my first teacher had blocked this facility for quite some decades.

For my tertiary entrance test I selected as one of the pieces the Prelude of Suite No 2.
As this was at the time my favourite piece I attempted to learn it by memory. I tried for nearly a year and failed.
If the reader is a teacher, please develop - or keep - this facility early in students.
Soon after my entrance into tertiary studies I started also to play Classical guitar.
I found it easy to play on any instrument by memory - like piano and guitar - except cello.
Luckily this facility especially on guitar started to feed gradually into my cello playing.
By the time of 22 I could play a few pieces by memory.
At this time I did my tertiary entrance test for guitar, which included Prelude and Allemande of Lute Suite 3.
I played on both instruments parallel cello Suite No 5 - lute Suite No 3 - which are both the same composition.
This was the first time I could play a whole cello Suite by memory.
Opposite to what some people believe, we can start learning by memory at any stage of our lives.
In my exam in 1976 I played Suite 3 and all movements of the Haydn Cello Concerto in C by memory.
Recently a student of mine asked how many pieces I could play by memory and I went home and tried to count:
More than 8 hours of play, far more than 100 pieces.
The most difficult piece to learn is the very first one. It is a new mind set.
So it is best to choose an easy one.
Every next piece is easier, as if once we know how to put the music into the memory" folder", we can fit in as many as we like.
In fact the speed of storing increases. It get's easier and easier.

BACH RECORDINGS & PERFORMANCE

In 1993/4 I recorded for the first time the whole set of the 6 Bach Suites.
The presenter of the program, Edda Filson, had asked me to record some pieces for cello after she had heard me playing cello in a Duo.
Just 3 years before I had a come back on the cello (classical guitar had been my first instrument for 14 years) and had started pieces I hadn't played before.
One of these was the Benjamin Britten Suites for cello solo.
I decided to record Britten Suite No 2 and Bach Suite No 1.
The Sydney based radio station 2 MBS FM, which is a specialized station for Classical music, aired the recording about 5 times.

A few months after the first airing Edda asked me: could I record some other Suite?
Six months after the first recording I recorded Suite 2 and 3.
For this recording I had the flu. I arrived with nasal spray, fever lowering tablets, anything I could take to get me through.
The recording went ok, but I missed my inner involvement and passion.
I developed an aversion against recording appointments made months in advance.
Nevertheless, Adda's next request was to record Suite No 4, which I had never played. Three month later I recorded it.
Another 3 month passed and I recorded Suite 5, and for the next request, Suite 6, I asked for 6 month - I had also never played it.
Edda had no idea, what she had asked for, but I am still today greatful; without her I would never have improved my level so much in half a year.

I felt now inspired to refocus on cello.
The preparation of the Suites for the first recording was a bit rushed.
I got hold of the first Baerenreiter edition of the manuscripts, studied and played all movements after each manuscript through, and created my own interpretation.
I had also decided to get my own recording equipment and plan my recording dates to be flexible and at home.

In 1997 the sudden opportunity came up to perform the 6 Suites in a lime stone cave, the Cathedral Chamber at Jenolan Caves, famous for its acoustics.
In 1999 I proposed to give cello concerts there monthly.
The repertoire for the concerts had widened to a variety of styles to suit the audience, but I included in each concert one of the Bach Suites.
In the year 2000 I did my first recording in the Cave. The CD included among other works at least one movement of each Suite.
The concerts proved successful and continue to today.

In 2009 all children had left home and I felt I had now more time.
After a first wave of recordings I decided to video the recordings as well and started again in January 2011.

In July 2011 I was nearly at the end and had only the last movement left, the Gigue of Suite No 6, when I injured my shoulder tearing a muscle - two days after I had finished performing my program including Suite No 6 - an impossibility to perform after the injury.
For 3 month I could not play thumb position, my arm was in pain, with a worry I might never recover 100%.
I had to modify my programs and could only endure a concert with the aid of painkillers.

But the incident somehow turned into a blessing in disguise.
Unable to play for more than 15 minutes at a time and obsessed with the Bach Suites I had my head full with all these details and had suddenly spare time.
I decided to create a web page dedicated to the Cello Suites and to write down the background for my interpretation.
Without the injury I would have never had this amount of time left and this web page wouldn't exist.
Now at the time of writing this last paragraph here I recorded this week the Gigue from Suite 6.
I also did a new recording of the Sarabande of Suite 6, as my own writings about interpretation didn't allow me to play the Sarabande in the way I used to!
I recorded many movements again, as the intense theoretical work had changed my interpretation.
The video recordings are therefore often older than the audio recordings (I left the videos as they had been published, whereas the audio CD will be the last part of publishing).

I hope that this page gives the reader some insight into the history of the Suites and also a guide on why to interpret in a certain way.
I welcome feedback to my little hometown in the rural mountains of Australia.
email: georgcello@hotmail.com

 

To the name 'BACH'

There is a common belief, that the name 'Bach' has to do with the German word 'Bach", which means creek, or brook (Australian: billabong).
This Romantic idea that the word Bach reflects the creative flow of water in the creek is often combined with the notion of the Germanic creative family of the Bach's, which includes 7 generations of dozens of musicians and composers.
Nothing could be more removed from the truth.

The Bach family has Hungarian origins.
J.S. Bach's ancestor Veit Bach (died 1619) left Hungary because of the prosecution of protestants.
Some record he was often sitting outside his mill, others outside his bakery, strumming his lute and singing.
The name was pronounced Baach (ch like in Loch-ness), which is dialect for a 'baker' .
So after all, the family was a musical Hungarian family of bakers.

It might be of interest, that J.S.Bach went to the same primary school in Eisenach / Saxony as Martin Luther a couple of centuries earlier.
Bach admired Martin Luther as a composer (which is not enough known).
The building of the primary school of these two central cultural figures of Europe is still standing and is today the primary school's library.




For questions regarding analysis and interpretation please contact Georg on: georgcello@hotmail.com

 

DONATION: A contribution to this project would be appreciated.

 

 


 

See Georg Mertens playing "Didgeridoo" for solo cello
in the Cave - to watch click on photo.
(photo Rob Whyte)

Contact: georgcello@hotmail.com

The magnificent Suites for cello solo by J.S. Bach

Wednesday 29th October 2014 : 7.30 pm
"Cello & Chocolate"
Josophan's Gingerbread House Katoomba (Cnr Waratah & Lurline St)
Tickets $45 (children $35)
Tickets include hot chocolate & fine chocalte on arrival / dessert at intermissison
& take home chocolate (concert only $25 / ch. $15)
Bookings essential ph 02 4782 6958

Sunday 2 November 2014 -
Mundurama (pronounced: Mundooorama) - St Stephen's Anglican Church - 3 pm
TICKETS $20 / Conc. $15 / Students & children $10

I selected this little church for the Bach cello Suites because of its exqusite acoustic properties.
It is built in brick and has a wooden floor and ceiling.




Wednesday 29 October 7.30 pm
Josophan's Gingerbread House Katoomba
Bookings essential ph 02 4782 6958

&

 

Sunday 2 November 3 pm
Mundurama - St Stephen's Anglican Church

PROGRAM:

J.S. BACH     -   From Suite No 1 in G major 
     Prelude - Listen - Youtube
     - Allemande  - Listen - Youtube
     - Courante  - Listen - Youtube
     - Sarabande  - Listen - Youtube
     - Menuets I & II - Listen - Youtube
     - Gigue - Listen - Youtube

G. MERTENS - Arabian Improvisation - Listen - Youtube

J.S. BACH     -   From Suite No 2 in D minor    
    Prelude - Listen - Youtube
    Allemande - Listen - Youtube
    Courante - Listen - Youtube
    - Sarabande  - Listen - Youtube
    - Menuets I & II - Listen - Youtube

    Gigue - Listen - Youtube

G. MERTENS - Improvisation in style of the Erh Hu - Listen - Youtube

J.S. BACH     -   From Suite No 3 in C - major
     Prelude - Listen - Youtube
     Allemande - Listen - Youtube
     - Courante - Listen - Youtube
     - Sarabande  - Listen - Youtube

     - Bourree's I & II - Listen - Youtube
     - Gigue  - Listen - Youtube


Georg Mertens plays a cello made c 1740, Italy.




Georg Mertens belongs to the handful of cellists who has recorded the complete Suites by J.S Bach more than once. His first recording was on request of the Sydney Classical music channel 2 MBS FM in 1993, the second in 2008/9 for a CD release of the Bach Suites (for availability and downloads see below).
Georg has also recorded all movements of the Suites on Youtube (see below).


 

 

_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________

 

 

 

The Jenolan Caves Concerts (1997 - 2013)

Over the last 16 years more than 15 000 visitors took the journey to the concerts in the Cathedral Chamber.
The 200 cello concerts with Georg Mertens in the chamber con stitute the longest series of cello concerts in history.

The concerts ended December 2013 due to the conditions set by the current event manager of Jenolan Caves.

For Caves Concerts - History and Acoustics - click here -


For feedback, additional information, questions
Please CONTACT:
georgcello@hotmail.com

_____________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________


 

 

 

 

J.S. Bach - The Six Cello Suites

Georg Mertens - solo cello

(Click on CD cover to listen on iTunes)

 

An Interpretation according to the
dynamic mapping by Bach


 

TRACKS

DISC 1

Suite No 1 in G major BWV 1007

1      Prelude(Dotzauer) 2:23
2      Allemande            4:48
3      Courante              2:51
4      Sarabande           3:15
5      Menuets               3:22
6      Gigue                   1:45

Suite No 2 in D minor BWV 1008

7      Prelude               4:16
8      Allemande         3:52
9      Courante             2:22
10    Sarabande          4:56
11    Menuets              3:26
12    Gigue                  2:53

Suite No 6 in D major BWV 1012

13      Prelude            5:20
14      Allemande        7:19
15      Courante          4:12
16      Sarabande       5:50
17      Gavottes          4:40
18      Gigue               5:01


DISC 2

Suite No 3 in C major BWV 1009

1      Prelude               3:40
2      Allemande           4:04
3      Courante             3:34
4      Sarabande          4:30
5      Bourrees             4:04
6      Gigue                  3:20

Suite No 4 in Eb major BWV 1010

7      Prelude                4:22
8      Allemande            4:47
9      Courante              3:45
10    Sarabande           4:35
11    Bourrees              5:01
12    Gigue                   2:45

Suite No 5 in C minor BWV 1011

13      Prelude               6:45
14      Allemande           6:21
15      Courante             2:33
16      Sarabande          2:59
17      Gavotte               5:10
18      Gigue                  2:03

 

To purchase a set of CD's (2) within Australia
click on Paypal icon below
AU $30 - FREE shipping within Australia

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click on Paypal icon below
US $35 (CD $30 + $5 international shipping)


Click here to listen / download and order CD's via CD Baby:
"Bach six Cello Suites" on CD Baby

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"Bach Six Cello Suites" on Amazon



 

DONATION: A contribution to this project would be appreciated.

 

THE EDITIONS OF THE 6 CELLO SUITES IN HISTORICAL ORDER

 

c 1720 - 1726 The estimated year Bach wrote or started writing the 6 Suites for cello solo. The original has been lost.

c 1726 - manuscript by Johann Kellner
Title: Sechs Suonaten pour la Viola de Basso

Kellner was a friend of Bach, a flautist and organist.
Therefore his bowings give rather a sense of phrasing and are inconclusive when used as bowing instructions.

Suite 5 is written in this manuscript for standard tuning, which hints to an existing edition in standard tuning, because we can't assume, that another person than a cellist would be able to understand the jump at the correct notes considering position play.
Also, he did not finish Suite 5. He started for a few bars the Sarabande, stopped and left out the Gigue altogether. I assume Kellner noticed, that the he had seen the Sarabande and Gigue before, which Bach also used for the flute suites.

 

 

c 1727 - 31 manuscript by Anna Magdalena Bach
Title: Suites a violoncello senza basso

Anna Magdalena's manuscript is regarded as possibly the closest to the original, obviously because she must have copied it from the original.
Certainly regarding the notes her copy must be the closest to the original.

Unfortunately she was not familiar of the inner logic of a string players' bow technique.
As demonstrated by her copies of the violin Sonatas & Partitas - where we have Bach's original - she miscopied frequently whole passages of bowings.
We have not to forget, that Anna Magdalena did the copying in her "spare time", which means, after she had managed to put a part of Bach's 20 children to bed.

By playing from her copy we need to move away from taking slur by slur literally, we must rather try to understand the messages of phrasing and bowings coming through in examples within the movement. Then we need to extend these patterns undisturbed by contradictions.
Naturally it remains very difficult to interpret what is meant - and what is not meant.

Also, Anna Magdalena's copy looks already back on a certain time span of experience with musicians having played the Suites.
Especially in the Prelude of Suite 1 we can discover a conscious moving away from the standard bowing of 3 slurred to a more complex pattern.
This complex pattern works as written. Therefore I assume, J.S. Bach must have supervised the copying and instructed her to change the bowing due to him not being happy with the sound of the "original" bowing, after he had heard several cellists play his original version (see also: comment to Prelude No 1).
Maybe her bowing of Prelude 1 can be seen as a second original draft of Bach.


 

1750 - 1800 - manuscript called 'C', author unknown
Title: Suiten und Preluden fur das Violoncello

This is the first copy of a cellist. We can play through this copy and it all makes sense - if we share the interpretation or not.
This copier lived historically already not anymore in the Baroque period, in which performers added ornaments according to their taste or to tradition.
In his manuscript the editor included the ornaments, which were traditionally played and regarded as being correct and belonging to a stylish performance.
He must have felt that performers of his time would leave out the proper ornaments, when he wouldn't write them in.
Therefore this copy gives us an important inside of Baroque performance. We can compare Anna Magdalena's copy without the ornaments and seeing in his copy, where they would have been played already in her time, although they were not written in.
This is especially so in the Sarabandes.

 

 

1775 - 1800 - manuscript called 'D', author unknown
Title: 6 Suite a Violoncello Solo

This copy is similar like manuscript "C" but less clear.
As in manuscript "C" ornaments are noted.

 

 

 

The four manuscripts above are the only known sources from before 1800 and are commonly taken as the closest to the lost original by J.S.Bach (see also "CONCLUSION").
They have been published by Baerenreiter and also by the Petrucci Library.


c 1720 to c 1850 ? - Many lost manuscripts (used as a base for the early prints)

The 4 surviving manuscripts mentioned above had not be used by any cellists of the time.
The books were too thick to fit on a music stand. There are also no fingerings in nor any signs, that they have been used.
That is why they have survived in excellent condition without any wear and tear.
Cellists must have used first the lost manuscripts plus hand copies of these and used later the prints after enough different prints reflecting all kinds of interpretations had been printed (see CONCLUSION for more details).

____________________________________________

c 1824/5 - Editor unknown (probably M. Norblin), publisher: Janet de Cotelle, Paris
Title: Six Sonatas ou Etudes pour le Violoncelle Solo

Often called 'the first printed edition'.
To call this edition the first is not a secure fact, but rather an assumption and also a dedication - a kind of Romanticism - to the story, that the great cellist Pablo Casals found this edition in a second hand shop and was later responsible for making the Suites known to a wider audience outside Germany.

The Baerenreiter Urtext Edition includes a copy of this publication. In a way this is unfortunate.
The edition lacks cooperation between editor and publisher;
it is impossible to play the movements through as they are.
Every few lines one gets stuck in the wrong bow direction.
Obviously the publisher had no idea of the inner logic of bowings, which are different than phrasing, and didn't bother to check with the editing cellist.

(in comparison to the next edition:)

Simultaneously Dotzauer edited his first edition (see below).
Dotzauer learnt composition from Ruettinger, who was a student of Kittel, a Bach student. He certainly had access to direct information and understanding, had several manuscripts to choose from, as he lived in the same town as Bach and was only two removes from Bach as a composition student.

Also, he must have kept an eye on the whole production as we can play through the Suites and it all makes sense from a players point of view.
I wish Baerenreiter would have published this edition as it would be by far the more interesting one. It also points clearly to further manuscripts, which have been lost and are different to the four known ones.

I got hold of the Prelude of Suite I from the 1826 edition thanks to the kindness of the still existing original editor Breitkopf (Breitkopf's edition is same edition as the prior Probst, which was virtually simultaniously published as Cotelle's edition).

 

 

c 1825 - Friedrich Dotzauer, publisher: H.A.Probst, Leipzig
Title: Sechs Sonaten (see comment above)

&
1826 - Breitkopf, Leipzig
1831 - Kistner, Leipzig
1890 - Breitkopf, Leipzig
1896 - Breitkopf, Leipzig
&
1916 - Guiseppe Magrini - Dotzauer, publisher: Ricordi, Milan
1956 - Walter Schulz - Dotzauer, new Ed. publisher: Pro Musica, Leipzig

The Dotzauer Edition had been published for a remarkable period of over 130 years.
The 1st edition has 2 bowing misprints on page 1, in the bars 10 and 28, which are corrected in later editions (I marked the corrections underneath).
However, because of the insecurity of having no original, Dotzauer consistently printed certain wrong notes, which we know today were in fact wrong (I have not seen the 1916 & 1956 editions).
They appear in the bars 22 / 24 / 26 & 27 (I circled them).
Cotelle prints the same mistakes in bars 22 and 26.

 






1827 - Richter, Petersburg

1866 - Friedrich Gruetzmacher, publisher: Peters, Leipzig
Title: Six Sonatas ou Suites pour Violoncelle seul

Suite 1 increased slurring in the Prelude
Suite 6 transposed to G major

 






& c 1885 - Friedrich Gruetzmacher 'Concert Version', Peters, Leipzig
c 1900 - Concert Version 2nd Ed. Peters, Leipzig

1879 - Alfred Doerffel (Bach Gesellschaft), publisher: Breitkopf, Leipzig

 

 

1888 - Alwin Schroeder, publisher: Kistner, Leipzig

1897 - Norbert Salter, publisher: Simrock, Berlin

1898 - Robert Hausmann, publisher: Steingraeber, Leipzig
&
1935 - Hausmann revised by Walter Schulz, Steingraeber, Leipzig

To my knowledge the first edition with B natural in bar 26 of Prelude 1 - corrected by the owner of the copy back to Bb!

 

 

1900 - Julius Loeb, publisher: Constallat, Paris
&
1923 - Loeb new Ed., Constallat, Paris

1900 - Julius Klengel, publisher: Breitkopf, Leipzig
&
1953 - Julius Klengel, new print, Breitkopf, Leipzig



still available 2011


- NOTE: of the 16 editions from 1824 to 1900 , 12 had been published in Leipzig and only 4 in other cities -

 

 

1907 - Jacques van Lier, publisher: Universal Edition, Wien

1907 - Wilhelm Jeral, publisher: Universal Edition, Wien

1911 - Hugo Becker, publisher: Peters, Leipzig
Title: Sechs Suiten (Sonaten) fuer Violoncello solo

still available 2011

 


&
1946 - reprint with publisher: IMC, New York
1953 - reprint, Peters, Leipzig
&
19 ? - reprint, Peters, New York (my edition)

To my knowledge the Becker edition is the first, which put forward the bowing of starting with 8 notes slurred in Prelude 1 - today the most played version.

My edition (bought in Australia, no year to be found, (printblock No 9148) has still the title in the inside cover : Sechs Suiten (Sonaten) fuer Violoncello solo

 

 

1914 - Evgueni Maigren, publisher: Jurgenson, Moscow

1918 - Fernand Pollain, publisher: Durand, Paris

1918 - Joseph Malkin, publisher: Fischer, New York

1919 - Percy Such, publisher: Augener, London (1st UK)

1920 - Cornelius Liegeois, publisher: Lemoine, Paris

1920 - Paul Bazelaire, publisher: Max Eschig, Paris
&
1933 - 2nd rev. Ed. Max Eschig, Paris

1921 - Paul Kurth, publisher: Drei Masken, Wien

1923 - Luigi Forino, publisher: Ricordi, Milan

1928 - Wilhelm Jeral, publisher: Muztorg, Moscow

1929 - Diran Alexanian, publisher: Salabert, Paris

still available 2011

 

Includes for the first time the facsimile manuscript by Anna Magdalena Bach.
This edition is the first sample of writing the music out including an intellectual analysis, which should introduce the player to phrasing and an understanding of Bach's polyphony in the solo part.
Later Mainardi and Tortellier followed this idea.
Alexanian's attempt is unfortuately so confusing that is is nearly impossible to read fluently.

1939 - Frits Gaillard, publisher: Schirmer, New York

still available 2011

 


1941 - Enrico Mainardi, publisher: Schott, Mainz
&
1966 - Mainardi, new rev. Ed., Schott, Mainz

still available 2011

This is the first edition I was given when I was 12. Mainardi used a layout differentiating the top / middle and bottom voices. Before I knew the words counterpoint and polyphony I tried already to do justice to the clarity of parts according to this edition.
Mainardi's idea is following Alexanian, but is clearer.
Like Alexanian he puts his own ideas first disregarding the bowings of the manuscripts.

1944 - Paul Gruemmer, publisher: Doblinger, Wien

still available 2011

 

This edition includes the facsimile manuscript of Anna Magdalena.
In difference to other editions (like later Kurtz) Gruemmer gives a faithful modern print of Anna Magdalena's bowings next to the manuscript.
The print is one of the clearest available and is one of the few if not the only one, where the editor puts his own view in the background and gives account of the manuscript in a modern note setting.
This edition could be one of the very best for the advanced palayer would it not unfortunately have so many printing mistakes (not historically doubtful notes, but real mistakes).

 

 

1947 - Semon Kosolupov, publisher: Muzgiz, Moscow

1950 - Bach Gesellschaft Edition, reprint, publisher: Lea Pocket Score, New York
&
1988 - Bach Gesellschaft, Dover, New York

still available 2011

 

1950 - August Wenzinger, publisher: Baerenreiter, Basel

still available 2011

 

In my student time everyone played this edition. The print is good. It claims to be Urtext (original or the closest to) but it is indeed a personal edition and mix of the editors way of playing without any explanation why a choice has been made.

1953 - J. Ebner, publisher: Hug, Zuerich

1954 - Gino Franzesconi, publisher: Suvini, Milan

1957 - Alexander Stogorsky, publisher: Muzgiz, Moscow

Includes facsimile manuscript of Anna Magdalena

1957 - Richard Sturzenegger, Suites 4-6 only, publisher: Reinhardt, Munich / Basel

1958 - Kazimierz Wilkomirski, publisher: PVVM, Crakow
&
1962 - Wilkomirski, publisher: PVVM, Crakow
1964 - Wilkomirski, publisher: PVVM, Crakow
1967 - Wilkomirski, publisher: PVVM, Crakow
&
1972 - Wilkomirski, new rev Ed., publisher: PVVM, Crakow

1963 - Lieff & Marie Rosanoff, publisher: Galaxy, New York

still available 2011

 

1964 - Dimitry Markevitch, publisher: Presser, Bryn

still available 2011

 

&
1985 - Markevitch, 2nd rev Ed., Presser, Bryn

1965 - Paul Rubart, publisher: Peters, Leipzig

1966 - Paul Tortellier, publisher: Augener, London
&
1983 - new ED., publisher: Stainer, London

still available 2011

 

 

1968 - Giuseppe Selmi, publisher: Carisch, Milan

1970 - Daniel Vandersall, publisher: Vandersall, NJ

still available 2011

 

This edition is just the notes without bowing, leaving it up to the player to write bowings in - thus saving the mess of crossing out what is suggested.
This is the opposite to the approach of writing too much (Tortellier / Mainardi / Alexanian)

1971 - Janos Starker, publisher: Southern, NewYork

still available 2011

 

& Peer International Corporation, New York, Hamburg

1972 - Pierre Fournier, publisher: IMV, NewYork

still available 2011

 

1974 - Eugen Eicher, publisher: Volkwein, Pittsburg

1978 - George Pratt, publisher: Stainer, London

1981 - Jaqueline Du Pre, publisher: Hansen, Copenhagen

still available 2011

 

1982 - Maurice Gendron, publisher: Zen-On, Tokyo

1984 - Marcel Bitsch / Klaus Heitz, publisher: Leduc, Paris

1984 - Edmund Kurtz, publisher: IMC, New York

still available 2011

 

Includes the facsimile manuscript of Anna Magdalena (a very good copy).

For me this is a strange edition. On one side you have the manuscript - as you would think to show an original - on the opposite side the music in print, bowings totally unrelated, as if the facsimile has been added because it looks nice.

.. [Exception, in Minuet I of Suite 1, Kurtz made a strange choice: Anna Magdalena forgot to draw the leggier line for the "E" in the 3rd last bar. Kurtz decided to interpret the note as a "D" - to me it seems like a stubborn individualism (as if nobody else noticed, that the line is missing!)
But, in fact the head is in the correct E space in distinction with the lower head of the D after and everyone concluded that it counts more than counting lines. Unfortunately e.g. Rostropovich plays the misfitting "D" probably due to respect to the cellist.]

The print is also unfortunately beneath standard, lines are too close together, notes are disappearing in the fold, some not even printed.

( please see Minuet 1 of Suite I ( Kurtz misinterpretation of the note "E") and in "Sarabandes" his after my opinion wrong guide to the interpretation of double stops)

1985 - Bruno Vitale, publisher: Curci, Milan

1986 - Pablo Casals (Madeleine Foley / D. Soyer / Ann Arbor), publisher: Continental

still available 2011

 

1986 - A. Vlassov, publisher: Muzgiz, Moscow

1987 - Giambattista Valdetarro, publisher: Zanibon, Padova

1988 - Neue Bach Ausgabe (Ed. Hans Epstein), publisher: Baerenreiter, Kassel
&
1995 - Neue Ausgabe Volume VI / 2, Epstein, Baerenreiter

This was the first edition showing a facsimile of the first four manuscripts.
The print was very small, the quality like average shiny photocopies of the 70th and the price astronomical. I paid in 1996 $185 for the pocket size edition booklet.
It should be said, that the Alexanian edition printed the facsimile of Anna Magadalena in 1929 in a far superior reprint; the technical possibilities were certainly there to do a better job.
(The volume with comments was so overpriced, I never met anyone who bothered purchasing it).

&
2000 - Bettina Schwemer / Douglas Woodfull-Harris: publisher: Baerenreiter, Kassel

This time Baerenreiter had the great idea to edit the 4 facsimiles in separate volumes, making comparing easy. Also, the quality of prints is as good as can be and the price is reasonable.

Unfortunately - as mentioned above - Baerenreiter choose the French first print above the German Dotzauer one. The French one time off edition was obviously quickly published without correction by the editing cellist - making it an uninteresting edition, too casual edited to propose virtually any view at all - where as the Dotzauer edition was of such a convincing quality, that it had been reprinted for 131 years.

The Baerenreiter edition includes also a very insightful collection of guide lines on performing during Bach's own time by e.g. Leopold Mozart, Quantz and Geminiani.
I personally come to different conclusions than the editors about interpretation and history - which I think doesn't matter - as probably many cellists will make their own conclusion with all the invaluable information given readily translated.

The extra text volume alone makes the purchase of this wonderful package worthwhile.

_______________________________________

1988 to today - There are the following editions available to today of which I was not able to find the year of publication:

Thomas Mifune. publisher: Edition Kunzelmann

Egon Voss. publisher: Henle Urtext. Wien

_______________________________________

After the appearance of the Internet many new editions appeared on the net.

I like to mention just one, the edition by Werner Icking.
Not only because it is the first edition where I found movements, in which I didn't need to correct one single bowing: his thoughts seemed to reflect mine! (This had never happened before).

Like me, Icking studied the Sonatas and Partitas for violin solo in comparison to the cello suites instead of relying on only the facsimiles.

One of the main features of Bach's bowings is: they are simple and consistent.
Bach is not a composer who wishes to express a phrase with a bow technique. He writes in passages, the interpretation should come rather from our ability to phrase without the aid of complicated bowings.

1997 - Werner Icking, publisher: Werner Icking Music Archive (WIMA), Siegburg

 

 

DONATION: A contribution to this project would be appreciated.

 

_____________________________________________

 

 

EDITIONS OF THE CELLO SUITES FOR OTHER INSTRUMENTS

I attempted here to find the earliest editions, who influenced later ones.
Again, today many editions are available on line undistinguished from very good to terrible.

 

 

EDITIONS for VIOLA

c 1880 - Stade, Heinze, Leipzig

1916 - Louis Scecenski, Schirmer, New York

c 1930 - Suite 1-4, Herrmann Ritter, F.Hofmeister, Leipzig

1944 - Samuel Lischey, Schirmer. New York

1951 - Watson Forbes, Chester Music, London

My father had this edition. The first Bach I played was my own transcription of Prelude 1 transposed from this edition, when I was 11.

1953 - Fritz Spindler, F.Hofmeister, Leipzig

1962 - Fritz Spindler, Muzgiz, Moscow

There exist also a Russian edition, which I have been told is lterally the Spindler edition. In this edition from 1962 the heading of Prelude 1 reads: "SONATA" I !!

1962 - Robert Boulay, Leduc, Paris

1982 - Milton Katims, IMC, New York

 

 

EDITIONS for VIOLIN

c 1860 - David, Breitkopf, Leipzig

 

 

EDITIONS for DOUBLE BASS

1885 - ? Schmidt, Boston

 

 

EDITIONS for PIANO

1870 - Raff, Pieter/Biedermann, Leipzig/Winterthur

? - F Gruetzmacher, 6 pieces from the Suites op 71, ?

1924 - L.Godowsky, Carl Fischer, New York

1931 - Siloti, Carl Fischer, New York

 

EDITIONS for CELLO & PIANO

1985 (posth) - Robert Schumann, Suite 3, Breitkopf. Wiesbaden

1864 - W von Stade, 6 Suites, Heinze, Leipzig

1894 - Piatti, Suite 1, Schott, Mainz

1899 - Zweigenit, Suites, Jurgenson, Moscow

1903 - Gruetzmacher, Bosworth, London

1911 - Schroeder, Suite 1 & 3, Schott, London

19?? - Carl Gardener, 6 Suites, Schweers & Haake, Bremen

 

 

EDITIONS for CLARINET

6 Suites arr. by Trent Kynasten. publisher: Advance Music

 

 

EDITIONS for TRUMPET

Cello Suites arr. by David Cooper. publisher: Roger Dean

6 Suites arranged by Andrew Kissling. publisher: AK Brass Press

 

 

 

 

 



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J.S. Bach - The Six Cello Suites
Georg Mertens - solo cello

(Click on CD cover to listen on iTunes)

 

An Interpretation according to the
dynamic mapping by Bach


 

TRACKS

DISC 1

Suite No 1 in G major BWV 1007

1      Prelude(Dotzauer) 2:23
2      Allemande            4:48
3      Courante              2:51
4      Sarabande           3:15
5      Menuets               3:22
6      Gigue                   1:45

Suite No 2 in D minor BWV 1008

7      Prelude               4:16
8      Allemande         3:52
9      Courante             2:22
10    Sarabande          4:56
11    Menuets              3:26
12    Gigue                  2:53

Suite No 6 in D major BWV 1012

13      Prelude            5:20
14      Allemande        7:19
15      Courante          4:12
16      Sarabande       5:50
17      Gavottes          4:40
18      Gigue               5:01


DISC 2

Suite No 3 in C major BWV 1009

1      Prelude               3:40
2      Allemande           4:04
3      Courante             3:34
4      Sarabande          4:30
5      Bourrees             4:04
6      Gigue                  3:20

Suite No 4 in Eb major BWV 1010

7      Prelude                4:22
8      Allemande            4:47
9      Courante              3:45
10    Sarabande           4:35
11    Bourrees              5:01
12    Gigue                   2:45

Suite No 5 in C minor BWV 1011

13      Prelude               6:45
14      Allemande           6:21
15      Courante             2:33
16      Sarabande          2:59
17      Gavotte               5:10
18      Gigue                  2:03

 

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