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Pierre's Tuesday Blog

Three Bach Cello Suites

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This month’s Once Upon the Internet digs into our many downloads from the defunct site MP3.COM. (I should point out that I am slowly but surely running out of tracks to share with you from that site...)

The trio of pieces I retained this month are three of the six Cello Suites (or more exactly Suites à Violoncello Solo senza Basso or Suites for cello solo without bass). The corpus of six suites is among some of the most frequently performed and recognizable solo compositions ever written for cello.

Bach wrote a lot of music for solo instrument – keyboard, violin, lute and of course organ – but these stand out because of the paradox they represent; they are simple yet complex, they achieve the effect of implied three- to four-voice contrapuntal and polyphonic music in a single musical line.
As formulaic compositions, they follow the usual Baroque musical suite make-up, each movement based around a baroque dance type. The cello suites are structured in six movements each: prelude, allemande, courante, sarabande, two minuets or two bourrées or two gavottes, and a final gigue.

There is no malice aforethought in the threesome proposed here – they are simply three suites I downloaded from the old site nearly 15 years ago. Two are performed by John Michel (featured cellist in our recent post of quartet music from Central Washington University), and the third is a “sample” posted on the site by Eroica Classical Recordings featuring cellist Yehuda Hanani.

Happy Listening!

Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007
Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009
John Michel, cello

Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, BWV 1010
Yehuda Hanani, cello

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