BACH Cello Suites No.1, No.3 & No.6
Ensemble 360’s cellist, Gemma Rosefield presents three of Bach’s well-loved and intimate works for unaccompanied cello. These Suites are some of the most frequently performed and recognisable solo compositions ever written for cello, and regularly feature in film and television soundtracks.
BACH Johann Sebastian, Cello Suites
Bach’s Cello Suites were probably composed in about 1720 during Bach’s time in Cöthen. It isn’t known for whom Bach wrote them, though there are at least two likely candidates working in Cöthen at the time: Christian Ferdinand Abel (1682–1761), a great friend of the composer for whom Bach wrote the three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord (BWV 1027–9) and Carl Berhard Lienicke (d. 1751), the leading cellist of the Cöthen orchestra. Whether either of them was the player Bach had in mind is a matter of pure speculation since no documentary evidence has come to light. Equally uncertain is why Bach wrote them. The likeliest explanation is that they were intended – like much of his keyboard music – for private performance. Bach sets the tone of the First Suite with a Prelude made of undulating arpeggios. The Allemande meanders purposefully until it arrives at a strong final cadence in the home key. Downward leaps and rather playful decorations characterize the Courante. Using multiple stopping, the Sarabande is noble and understated. It is in two sections; the first ends on D (the dominant) and the second moves to E minor before returning to the tonic, G. The pair of graceful Minuets contrast major and minor and both are marked by flowing movement. The Gigue brings the suite to a joyful conclusion.
Nigel Simeone 2018