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8.550677 - BACH, J.S.: Cello Suites Nos. 1-3, BWV 1007-1009

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)

Cello Suites Vol. 1
Suite No. 1 in G Major, BWV 1007
Suite No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1008
Suite No. 3 in C Major, BWV 1009

Johann Sebastian Bach was born at Eisenach in 1685 into a family of musicians. The early death of his parents left him in the care of his eldest brother Johann Christoph, organist in Ohrdruf, where he remained for five years, until becoming a pupil at the Michaelisschule in Lüneburg in l700. Three years later he was appointed court musician in Weimar, but a few months later moved to Arnstadt as organist at the Neuekirche. In 1707 he moved to a similar position at the Blasiuskirche in Mühlhausen, where he married his cousin Maria Barbara. The following year brought appointment to Weimar as organist and chamber musician to Duke Wilhelm Ernst, one of the two rulers of the Duchy. In 1714 he was promoted to the position of Konzertmeister, consolidating still further his position as an authority on the construction of the organ and his reputation as a performer. In 1717 he left the service of the Duke, who briefly had him imprisoned for his temerity in trying to leave Weimar, and took a more congenial position as Kapellmeister to the young Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen. Here he was able to concentrate on secular music, since the Pietist practices of the court obviated the need for elaborate church music. It was only the marriage of the Prince to a woman without musical interests that induced Bach to seek employment elsewhere. In 1723 he signed a contract with the Leipzig authorities as Thomaskantor, with teaching responsibilities at the Thomasschule, some of which could be delegated, and the charge of music in the principal city churches. By 1729 he had also taken the direction of the university collegium musicum, a society established earlier in the century by Telemann, godfather of Bach's fifth child, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and the Leipzig city council's first choice as Thomaskantor. Bach remained in Leipzig as Thomaskantor until his death in 1750. His earlier years involved him in the composition of a quantity of church music, while the demands of the collegium musicum were met by the re-arrangement of earlier instrumental concertos for one or more harpsichords. He continued to write extensively for the keyboard and to collect and edit his earlier compositions, particularly in the four volumes of his Clavierübung.

Bach wrote his six Suites for unaccompanied cello at Cöthen, about the year 1720. It is thought that the first four of the Suites, at least, were written either for Christian Ferdinand Abel, bass viol player at Cöthen or for Christian Bernhard Linike, more probably the latter. Abel, appointed to Cöthen in 1715, is not known to have been a cellist, while Linike was distinguished rather as a player of the cello and in this capacity had been appointed to the musical establishment of the Margrave Christian Ludwig in Cöthen in l7l6. Both musicians were friends and colleagues of Bach. The original autograph of the suites is lost and the earliest copy is that in the hand of Bach's second wife, Anna Magdalena, made probably in 1727 or 1728 for the Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel chamber musician Georg Heinrich Ludwig Schwanberg, who had visited Leipzig at the time and taken lessons in thoroughbass from Bach, for whose daughter Regina Johanne he stood as godfather.

Each of the six cello suites opens with a Prelude. The Suite in G major, BWV 1007, has an introductory movement in which the changing harmonies are made clear in arpeggiated form. The usual Allemande and Courante are followed by a slow Sarabande, with a repeated Menuet I framing a G minor Menuet II. The Suite ends, as it should, with a Gigue.

The second Suite, in D minor, BWV 1008, opens again with an elaborate Prelude, ending with a series of grandiose arpeggiated chords. Once again Allemande and Courante leadto asarabande, and a D minor Menuet I is repeated to frame a D major Menuet II, before a lively final Gigue.

The third Suite, in C major, BWV 1009, has a Prelude marked Presto in some sources. This opens boldly with a descending scale and an arpeggio that ends on the resonant bottom string of the instrument. A relatively elaborate Allemande is paired with a simpler Courante, followed by a stately Sarabande, a well known movement that leads to the still more familiar pair of Bourrées, the second in C minor. The suite ends with an energetic Gigue.

Csaba Onczay
The Hungarian cellist Csaba Onczay, awarded the Liszt Prize and winner of the 1973 Pablo Casals Competition in Budapest, followed by first prize in the Rio de Janeiro Villa Lobos International Competition in 1976, was born in Budapest in 1946. A professor at the Ferenc Liszt Academy in Budapest, he was trained as a pupil of Antal Friss at the Budapest Academy, where he won the Grand Prize on his graduation in 1970. He went on to distinguish himself in Andr6 Navarra's master-class at Siena and continued his studies at the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. Csaba Onczay has enjoyed a busy career at home and abroad, throughout Europe and in the United States of America. He has recorded for the Austrian and the French radio, as well as for Hilversum, RIAS and RAI, while his performances of the cello concertos of Lalo, Schumann and Lendvay have been released on the Hungaroton label. Csaba Onczay plays a cello by Matteo Gofriller bought for him by the Hungarian Government.

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