|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|
|Add Date:||2022-03-14||Pull Date:||2022-05-16||Charts:||Classical/Experimental|
|Week Ending:||May 1||Apr 24||Apr 3|
|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]
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.