Friday Musicale hosts renowned cellist Alexei Romanenko for a performance of the complete Bach Cello Suites. The suites will be performed in two parts, beginning at 7pm on April 4th, and continuing at 7pm on April 11th. Each concert will be about 90 minutes in length. These concerts are free for members with a $10 general admission ticket also available.
The six Cello Suites, BWV 1007–1012, are suites for unaccompanied cello by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). They are some of the most frequently performed solo compositions ever written for cello. Bach most likely composed them during the period 1717–1723, when he served as Kapellmeister in Köthen. The title given on the cover of the Anna Magdalena Bach manuscript was Suites à Violoncello Solo senza Basso (Suites for cello solo without bass).
As usual in a Baroque musical suite, after the prelude which begins each suite, all the other movements are based around baroque dance types. 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. Gary S. Dalkin of MusicWeb International called Bach’s cello suites “among the most profound of all classical music works” and Wilfrid Mellers described them in 1980 as “Monophonic music wherein a man has created a dance of God”.
Due to the works’ technical demands, étude-like nature, and difficulty in interpretation because of the non-annotated nature of the surviving copies and the many discrepancies between them, the cello suites were little known and rarely publicly performed in the modern era until they were recorded by Pablo Casals (1876–1973) in the early 20th century. They have since been performed and recorded by many renowned cellists and have been transcribed for numerous other instruments; they are considered some of Bach’s greatest musical achievements.
The matinee concert is an abridged version of the full suite, which will be performed in two sittings, 7pm on April 4th and 7pm on April 11th.