Bach, J.S., (Yo-Yo Ma, Cello) / Six Evolutions: Bach Cello Suites
Album: Six Evolutions: Bach Cello Suites   Collection:Classical
Artist:Bach, J.S., (Yo-Yo Ma, Cello)   Added:Nov 2021
Label:Sony Classical  

A-File Activity
Add Date: 2022-03-14 Pull Date: 2022-05-16 Charts: Classical/Experimental
Week Ending: May 1 Apr 24 Apr 3
Airplays: 1 1 1

Recent Airplay
1. May 21, 2022: Music Casserole
CD 2. Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, Bwv 1010. Prelude [4:52]
3. Apr 23, 2022: Music Casserole
4. Sarabande [4:08]
2. Apr 25, 2022: Begonia Balm
18. Gigue [3:45]
4. Apr 02, 2022: Music Casserole
10. Sarabande [3:10]

Album Review
Gary Lemco
Reviewed 2021-11-20
Bach composed his set of six solo cello suites in Coethen,
between 1717 and 1723. The cello had previously served
as an accompanying instrument to support a melody in
a trio sonata or to provide a figured bass. Bach added an 
introductory prelude to all six cello suites, and into each 
suite he interpolated one extra dance movement just before 
the final gigue to make a total of six movements. All 
movements after the opening prelude are in binary form.
Bach left few indications to the performer as to dynamics, 
phrasing, added figurations, and the use of ornaments. 
In this, his third recording of the suites, Yo-Yo Ma relies on 
some forty years of musical instinct to render the melodic 
and contrapuntal demands of these intensely personal scores.

The noble Prelude of the Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007 
rides along a steady pulse of sixteenth notes, gradually building to 
a great climax–into these otherwise bare sequences of steady notes. 
Bach makes full use of the resonant sound of the cello’s open G-string, 
and the movement’s concluding line provides an inversion of its 
opening line. The Allemande moves along a similar sequence of 
steady sixteenths, though the tempo feels slow and dignified. The 
Courante sails along somewhat harder-edged rhythms, while the 
Sarabande dances with a grave dignity; Bach makes effective contrast 
here between the resonance of great chords and the steady flow of 
the melodic line. The interpolated movement in the First Suite is a pair 
of minuets. Their sprightly rhythms had their origins in a quick dance 
rather than the stately tempo we associate with the court dance; the 
second minuet is the only section in the suite not in G major–Bach 
moves to D minor here, though even this continually edges back toward 
the home tonality. The concluding Gigue is an athletic and quite 
brief dance in 6/8 that flows smoothly to its brisk close.

The dark tonality gives the Second Suite in D Minor, BWV 1008 a 
somber spirit–only in the second minuet does the music move 
briefly into a sunny D major. The stern opening Praeludium builds on a 
steady pulse of sixteenth notes, while the Allemande dances gravely, its 
progress enlivened by dotted rhythms and turns. The Courante moves 
along swiftly, while the noble Sarabande makes its dignified way at a 
slower pace. After this, the two minuets offer relief, with the sunny second 
dance serving as the trio section. A Gigue (derived from the Irish jig) swings 
along in a 12/8 meter, but here Bach sets it in a much shorter metric unit (3/8), 
and this jig dances sternly, with strong accents cutting into the rhythmic flow.

The Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009 is noted for its broad, heroic character, 
which comes in part from Bach’s choice of key: C major allows him to make 
ample use of the cello’s C-string, and the resonance of this lowest string 
echoes throughout the suite. The preludes of all the suites have an intentionally 
“improvisatory” quality, despite having been written out. The Prelude builds on 
a virtually non-stop sequence of sixteenth notes; at the end a series 
of declamatory chords draws the music to its climax. The Allemande is an old 
German dance: here, Bach enlivens the basic pulse with turns, doublestops, 
and thirty-second notes. The Courante races past, while the Sarabande is 
dignified and extremely slow. Many listeners will discover that they already 
know the first Bourrée, for this graceful dance has been arranged for many 
other instruments; Bach presents an extended variation of it in the second 
Bourrée. The concluding Gigue dances quickly on its 3/8 meter; Bach 
offers the cellist brisk passagework as well as extended double-stopping in this 
good-spirited dance.

The Fourth Suite in E-flat Major, BWV 1010 is one of the most difficult of 
the cycle, not just for its technical hurdles but also because the key of E-flat major 
is awkward for stringed instruments. The opening Praeludium proceeds sturdily 
on a steady flow of eighth notes that continues for nearly fifty measures; a 
quasi recitativo, full of sixteenth notes and chords, provides a brief interlude 
before the return of opening material, now varied rhythmically and harmonically. 
The gentle Allemande leads to a more energetic Courante; this movement is 
full of rhythmic variation, as Bach switches between progressions of eighths, 
sixteenths, and then triplets. The grave and graceful Sarabande is the suite’s slow 
movement, built on double-stops and dotted rhythms; despite the slow tempo, 
the movement reveals roots in dance. The “extra” movement in this suite is a 
pair of bourrées, which form one ABA movement. The opening Bourrée is athletic 
and long, the second quite brief, virtually a double-stopped transition 
passage in the cello’s lower register before the return of the opening bourrée. 
The concluding Gigue proves most difficult for the cellist: in 12/8, it gives the 
effect of flying triplets, and the movement becomes a non-stop tour de force.

The Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011 has long been regarded as one of the 
finest of the cycle: the somber minor tonality gives the music a dark, expressive 
quality. An unusual feature of the cello version is that Bach asks the cellist to 
re-tune his instrument, tuning the A-string (the top string) down one full step 
to G; this makes possible certain chord combinations impossible with normal tuning.
The lengthy opening Praeludium has been compared to French overture form, 
opening with the dotted figures characteristic of the French overture and introducing 
fugal-sounding material, but the opening section never returns. The slow 
Allemande retains the dotted rhythms of the opening movement, while the 
Courante is in a quick 3/2 meter, full of multiple stopping. The grave Sarabande 
is entirely linear–there is no chording at all here–and this ancient dance proceeds 
with great dignity. Two gavottes form the “extra” movement in this suite. 
The first is athletic and graceful and full of double-stopping, while the second 
is quick and built on flowing triplets; Bach asks for a da capo repeat of the first 
gavotte. The gigue is of British origins, but Bach’s concluding Gigue seems far 
removed from its ancestor, the merry jig. Here the metric and phrase units are 
short (a quick 3/8), and the movement ends with somber gravity.

The Sixth Suite in D Major, BWV 1012 appears to have been conceived 
originally for an instrument other than cello. Bach’s manuscript notates the part 
in soprano and alto clefs: scholars guess that he may have written this suite for 
the now-obsolete viola pomposa or the violoncello piccolo: both these 
instruments had a fifth string–an E a fifth above the cello’s A-string– though 
the viola pomposa was played under the chin. For performance on the cello, 
the part has been transposed to the tenor and bass clefs; the range of the part, 
however, still sits high in the cello’s register. The Prelude of the Sixth Suite is set 
in 12/8, an energetic rush of triplets; near the end, however, Bach moves from 
the eighth-note pulse to sixteenth notes, and the music seems to rush ahead 
at twice its opening speed. The stately main idea of the Allemande is decorated 
with ornate swirls of 64th notes as it proceeds, while the Courante is brisk and 
propulsive–it grows increasingly athletic and chromatic in its second half. 
The Sarabande, in a broad 3/2 meter, is based on double-stopping, much 
of it high in the cello’s range. The interpolated movements in this suite are 
a pair of gavottes. Vigorous and spirited, this music may be familiar because 
it has been arranged for other instruments; in the second strain of the second 
gavotte, Bach creates a drone-like effect on the cello’s open D-string as the 
melodic line dances above it. Not only is the concluding Gigue very fast, 
but much of it is built on double-stops, and Bach’s final suite closes in a great 
cascade of energy.

Track Listing
1. CD 1. Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007. 1 Prelude [2:26]   19. CD 2. Suite No. 4 in E-Flat Major, Bwv 1010. Prelude [4:52]
2. Allemande [4:15]   20. 2. Allemande [4:22]
3. Courante [2:35]   21. 3. Courane [3:52]
4. Sarabande [2:30]   22. 4. Sarabande [4:08]
5. Menuets 1 & 2 [3:28]   23. 5. Bourees 1 & 2 [4:57]
6. Gigue [1:54]   24. 6. Gigue [3:03]
7. Suite No. 2 In D Minor, BWV 1008. Prelude [4:18]   25. 7. Suite No. 5 in C Minor, BWV 1011. Prelude [6:37]
8. Allemande [3:28]   26. 8. Allemande [5:47]
9. Courante [1:48]   27. 9. Courante [2:08]
10. Sarabande [4:07]   28. 10. Sarabande [3:10]
11. Menuets 1 & 2 [3:02]   29. 11. Gavottes 1 & 2 [4:28]
12. Gigue [2:27]   30. 12. Gigue [2:47]
13. Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009. Prelude [3:14]   31. 13. Suite No.6 in D Major, BWV 1012. Prelude [4:45]
14. Allemande [3:44]   32. 14. Allemande [6:39]
15. Courante [3:08]   33. 15. Courante [3:52]
16. Sarabande [3:36]   34. 16. Sarabande [4:01]
17. Bourees 1 & 2 [3:40]   35. 17. Gavottes 1 & 2 [3:38]
18. Gigue [2:58]   36. 18. Gigue [3:45]