The Music

Music #1

Suite No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007. Johann Sebastian Bach

My earliest musical memory is of hearing my mother teaching the Prelude from this Suite downstairs as I lay in bed. I have no idea how old I was at the time, but I have never been able to hear the extraordinary beauty of this movement without being transported back to my very early childhood. Over the years I have performed the whole of the first five suites, and there are probably individual movements scattered across those that I find more extraordinary for differing reasons, but I constantly find myself drawn back to the first suite as a whole. The minuets remind me of my lessons with Anna Shuttleworth; in fact they are the piece I most vividly recall being taught by her. It was several years later that I approached the rest of the dance movements and was able to perform the whole suite in a concert series at Uppingham. In these days of little time for the cello, this is also the easiest suite, and therefore the one that I have most success in playing nowadays.

I can’t begin to suggest which recording you should listen to – there are so many, and I own at least four myself. Fournier, Tortelier, Ma, Maisky? Who knows. But please, if you never have, listen to this extraordinary sequence of perfectly crafted pieces. Revel in the harmonies revealed, even in the writing for a single instrument. No note is wasted, no note falls out of place.

3 Comments on “Music #1

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  2. The Prelude can be interpreted in so many ways. As a cellist I am always fascinated at how a different bowing can enhance or detract from a turn of phrase. Some performances are much more romantic but probably add too much of the performer’s personality and distract from the brilliance of Bach. For me the Sarabande from the first suite is pure eloquence

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