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Johann Sebastian Bach

6 Suites aVioloncello solo

senza Basso
Anner Bylsma
6 Suites a Violoncello solo senza Basso, BWV 1007-1012
ANNER BYLSMA, Baroque cello
Suite No. 1 in G, BWV 1007
111 Prelude 2:08
[11 Allemande 4 :24
131 Courante 2:52
141 Sarabande 2:10
I IMenuet I & II 3:27
161 Gigue 1:40
Suite No. 2 in d minor, BWV 1008
171 PreIude 3:06
18! Allemande 3 :48
191 Courante 2 :03
1101 Sarabande 3:15
1111 Menuet 1& II 3: 10
1111 Gigue 2:28
Suite No. 3 in C, WV 1009
1131 PreIude 3:06
1141 Allemande 4
11 Courante 3: 17
1161 Sarabande 3:04
1171 Bourrce I & 11 3:09
1181 Gigue 3:12
ANNER IIYI.$MA, Ihroque cello
(M"ttio Goffrileri, Yenezi", 1699)
Producer "nd Reconling Supervisor:
Wolf Eriehson
Suite No. 4 in E fbt, BWV 1010
111 Pn':lude 3:49
111 Allemande 4:08
131 Courante 3:31
141 Sarabande 3:38
151 Bourreel & 11 4:3
161 Gigue 2:56
Suite No. 5 in c minor, BWVIOll
171 Prelude 4:53
181 Allemande 4:03
191 Courante 1:55
1101 Sarabande 3:16
1111 Gavotte I & 11 4:02
1121 Gigue 2:02
Suite No. 6 in D, BWV 1012
1131 Prelude 4:39
[Jjl Alleman<le 7:02
[151 Courante 3:3(,
[161 Sarabande 4:06
1171 Gavottel & II 2:59
[181 Gigue 3:36
Recorded in Eehing/I."ndshut (Ihv"ri,,),
April & M"y 1979
Reconling Enginecr: lcijc van Gccst

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aru PIOIU{lod. Dillllbuilld
ill [urope by RCA/Ariolo
All righll
01 rUlord
IlI(Ordl 0\ \loled Oll wlOld
PrilllcdinW. Gcrll1l1l1V
gen und Laufwerk, entfernt vergleichbar dem
Prludium in C-dur des ersten Teils des"Wohl
temperierten Klaviers) in Suite V eine Franzsi
sche Ouvertre mit pathetischem Einleitungsteil
und quasi fugiertem Mittelteil (sozusagen einer
einstimmigen Fuge) und in Suite VI ein stark toc
catenhalt orientiertes, sehr virtuoses Stck. In
den Stammstzen der Suite sind Bach komposito
risch zwar etwas strker die Hnde gebunden,
doch bemht er sich auch hier, abwechselnd die
verschiedenartigsten Bewegungsformen, Rhyth
men und Figurationen, wie sie die Tradition des
spten 17. Jahrhunderts bereits v0rgeprgt hatte,
in einer knsrlerisch stets berzeugenden Weiter
entwicklung zu gestalten. Mit dieser permanen
ten Umformung und Erweiterung des Vorgefun
denen, ein Grundzug des Bachsehen Schaffens
berhaupt, verbindet sich eine staunenswerte
Vertiefung des Gehalts, die seine Werke aus dem
Zeitbedingten ins zeitlos Gltige erhob.
hen considering Bach's role as an
organist, harpsichordist and composer
~ of numerOU$ church cantatas, passions
and masses, one tends to forget that he was, in
fact, originally a violonist. He began his musical
career in 1703 as a violinist at Weimar, returned
there in 1708 as leader of the orchestra, and, in
1717, was appointed Kapellmeister at Cothen.
The small court orchestra at Cothen consisted
primarily of strings.-The crowning point in Bach's
career as a violinist was the composition, in 1720,
of the "Sei Solo a Violino senza Basso accompa
gnato", of which Bach produced an exceptionally
neatly written manuscript copy. He labelIed this
collection of works for solo violin "Iibro primo".
One is consequently tempted to assume that Bach
was simultaneously planning, if not already
working on, another collection along the same
lines to be called "Iibro secondo". Today it is gen
erally accepted that the "6 Suites a Violoncello so
lo senza Basso" constitute this "second volumen.
The solo violoncello suites also exist in an auto
graph copy, but it is unfortunately undated. The
title page and headings are in the handwriting of
Bach's second wife, Anna Magdalena, whom he
married on December 3rd, 1721, following on the
sudden death of his first wife. The Suites for Vio
loncello Solo would appear to have been com
posed, therefore, immediately alter the Sonatas
and Partitas fr Violin Solo, in 1720 or 1721.
Bach never composed for the benefit of
some imaginary "future posterity" but each time
for a concrete purpose. His keyboard works were
primarily intended for the instruction of his sons,
his "Orgelbchlein" followed a similar purpose in
respect of the organ, whereas the great organ pre
ludes and fugues were probably composed mainly
for his own use. Being an excellent violinist Bach
himself presumably played his Sonatas and Parti
tas for Violin Solo, as the fingering-marks in the
autograph copy indicate. His degree of proficien
cy on the violoncello and bass viol was, by
comparison, only moderate, and as such would
never have allowed him ro execure these techni
cally extremely demanding works. Musicologists
usually maintain that the only person for whom
Bach could possibly have written his "Iibro sec
ondo" was Ferdinand Christian Abel, an excellent
player of both the violoncello and the bass viol,
who was a member of the court orchestra at
Anhalt-Cothen until 1737. Not only did Bach es
teem Abel highly as a musician, but also as a
friend, for Bach was godfather ro Abel's third
child, a daughter Sophie Charlotte, born onJanu
ary 6th, 1720. Abel's son Karl Friedrich, also a
brilliant exponent of the bass viol, is said to have
become one of Bach's pupils at St. Thomas Choir
School, Leipzig. Ir was he who, in 1765, rogether
with Bach's youngest son Johann Christian,
founded the famous Bach-Abel Concert Series in
The elose proximity of their composition
makes it interesting to compare these works for
solo violin and solo violoncello. For the violin
Bach wrote three suites und three, for the times,
"modern" sonatas; for the violoncello, on the
other hand, he wrote only suites. He expected of
the agile violin not only great virtuosity but also
the ability ro execute strict polyphony, a feat
which almost exceeds the bounds of possibility.
Of the violoncello he also expected virtuosity but
the musical material is much more firmly
grounded in tradition and less experimental. The
tendency ro be more objective in his treatment
of the violoncello is particularly noticeable in his
sparing use of polyphony, double-sropping tech
niques and bariolage effects. The only movements
where polyphony is predominant are the sara
bande movements, and occasionally the bourree
and gavotte lTlvement$. The rest of thc suite
movements merely content themselves with a few
double-sroppings, mainly at cadences. This re
straint is largely because the tension of the vio
loncello bow in use around 1700 could not bc
slackened, a fact which limited the instrument's
potential. Thus, in his violoncello suites, Bach
had ro forgo these specifically "spatial" effects,
which are such a distinguishing feature of the
works for solo violin. [n spite of this, however,
Bach manages 10 beslOw an amazing wealth of
colour, technical and compositional brillia\lee and
character on these fine works.
From the last two suites it is evident tha,
Bach was, indeed, striving tO extend the technieal
possibilities of the violoncello. He entirled the
Fif,h suite "Suitte discordable" and instrue'ed
that the A string be tuned down ro G. The Sixth
Suite he composed for a five-stringed instrumen,
with its strings tuned 10 C-G-d-a-e, the viola
pomposa, an instrument whose consrrUl.':lion
Bach himself developed, or at least inspired, and
whose range, when played in the first position,
was 25% greater than that of the violoncello.
Bach exploited this newly won freedomlO ,he full
throughout the work. The viola pomp"sa was
held not between the knees but in an arm posi
tion. On aCCQunt of its size, howcvcr, it was
somewhat awkward 10 play and the player easily
grew tired. In his dictionary of music Ernst LuJ
wig Gerber, son of a pupil of Baeh's confirms that
Bach employed this instrument in his Leipzig or
chestra. He states that it was played, above all,
when a "lively bass" was required, as it was easier
ro execute "high and rapid passages" on it.
Unlike other work-cyeles of Bach's in which
it is obviously the very contrasr between the indi
vidual works that crea'es the cyele, this set of vio
loncello suites is characterized by having the same
b"ic pattern of movements for each work. Bach,
here, seems to feel the need ro continue in the
German suite tradition with its established order
of movements, the type he favoured in his key
board suites. An opening prelude is followed by
the four standard suite mOvements allemande,
courante, sarabande and gigue. Between the sara
bande and gigue, however, Bach inserts a pair of
"fashionable" dances each time, a pair of gavottes,
minuets or bourree - the only variable element,
as it were. These "galant" pieces are presented
pretty weil in their original dance idiom; Bach
does not "stylize" them. For the opening preludes
Bach chooses a differen, type for each suite, con
structing ,hem in anything from one ro four sec
,ions: in Suite 11, for instance, the Prelude is a
mOvement of extremely rich harmonic develop
ment with a well-defined elimax; in Suite IV i, is a
web of sound made up of arpeggios and runs,
faintly reminiscent of the C major Prelude of the
Firs, Part of ,he "48 Preludes and Fugues"; in
Suite V the Prelude is a French overture with a
grand, imposing introduetion and quasi fugal
middle seetion (a one-part fugue, so ro speak); in
Suite VI it is a roccata-like, brilliantly vinuoso
piece. When writing the four standard suite
movements Bach's hands were naturally more tied
by convention. Here, (00, however he tries (0
present the different types of movement, rhyth
mic patterns and figurations already weil esta
blished in late - 17th century tradition in as var
ied a manner as possible, developing their artistic
potential even further. Associated with this per
manent re-shaping and expanding of already
available material, a basic feature in Bach's oeuvre,
is that deepening of Content and meaning which
raises his works above the time-bound inro the
English translation
by Avril WallS
n e r Bylsma wurde 1934 in Den Haag ge
geboren und erhielt seine erste musikali
~ sche Ausbildung bei seinem Vater und
Cello unterricht bei Marinus Snoeren. Sein Stu
dium an der Kniglichen Hochschule in seiner
Heimatstadt absolvierte er bei Prof. Carel van
Leeuween Boonkamp und schlo es 1957 mit
dem Prix d'Excellence ab. 1959 gewann er den er
sten Preis des Pablo-Casals-Wettbewerbs in Me
xico. Zu dieser Zeit war er bereits erster Solocel
list des Orchesters der Niederlndischen Oper in
Amsterdam und hielt diese Position zwischen
1962 und 1968 am Concertgebouw Orchestra in
ne; dann wurden die Konzertangebote so zahl
reich, da er die feste Stellung zugunsten einer
freien solistischen und kammermusikalischen
Ttigkeit aufgab. Sein umfangreiches Repertoire
umfat nicht nur die bekannten romantischen
und nachromantischen Cellokonzerte, sondern
auch wenig aufgefhrte Werke aus dem 17.-19.
Jahrhundert. Sein besonderes Interesse gilt der
Auffhrung alter Musik auf historischen Instru
menten, so da er zum bevorzugten Partner von
Frans Brggen und Gustav Leonhardt wurde.
1970 erhielt Bylsma den Edison-Preis fr die von
ihm geleiteten Aufnahmen der Kammerkonzerte
von Hindemith und seine Interpretationen von
Musiken des 18. Jahrhunderts auf dem Barock
Cello. Seit 1970 lehrt er als Professor am Konser
vatorium in Amsterdam und an der Kniglichen
Hochschule in Den Haag.
n e r Bylsma was born in 1934 at the Hague!
Netherland. He got his first lessons from
~ his father. He got the Prix d'excellence of
the Hague Conservatorium concluding his les
sons by Carel van Leeuwen Boonkamp.
First prize he won at the Pablo Casals Con
cours in Mexico in 1959. For some years he was
solo cellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra,
Amsterdam (1962-1968).
His repertoire consists nOt only of the fa
mous Romantic and post-Romantic cello concer
tos, bus also lesser-known works from the 19th,
18th and late 17th centuries. He has for long been
particularly interested in music which can be per
formed on original instruments and he plays a Ba
rogue cello.
Anner Bylsma gives concerts with Frans
Brggen and Gustav Leonhardt.