Even to this date the lonely cello is still a neglected instrument. However, there are countless compositions which showcase the warmth which reside within the brailed strings of the wonderful fuzzy sound. Such compositions primarily came from the Baroque era (c. 1600-c. 1760), in which the string quartet usually saw the use of the cello, but sometime between 1717 and 1723, Johann Sebastian Bach
decided to pay respect the instrument, composing six infamous suites for solo cello.
Each of the six explores their territory in a similar fashion, holding their own prelude, allemande, courante, sarabande, galanterie and a final gigue. Of the six, the first maintains a well established popular knowledge, none other more so, than the first “Prelude,”
which with its fabulous exploration of arppegiated chords around the tonic note, give the audience a definitive insight into the master that is Bach. On top of the initial brilliance witnessed within the first instalment, the second, or “Allamande”
certainly doesn’t maintain audible reconciliation with the general audience, but surely upholds the emotion that has already been crafted. While the movement does feel at times to shift into areas where the calming music feels uneasily static, the third movement, “Courante,”
fronts in with immediate grace and form.
In the “Sarabande”
the music once again returns to a few of the infamous chords expressed in the Prelude, but, this movement is haunting and aching, and rather saddening. In such a vibrant suite thus far, this may feel a little uncomfortable for some listeners, as it should, but as a piece itself, it preserves its own quality through the raw emotion of the player’s guise. The fifth part, which includes the “minuets,” is said by many, to be the point of practice for aspiring cellists. One because of its apparent easier form, but also its tonal quality, which for many cellists is easily recognisable within the wood of their instrument. Non-chordal in its approach, something which so far is very experimental, the “Galanterie”
is relaxing, and hopeful, and sets a good point for the final “Gigue”
to return to the location where toe suite began; harmonic excellence.
Today, the actual music for the suites is not accounted for, therefore countless editions, renditions and interpretations have given rise to interestingly different recordings of the suites. The first, for example uses certain phrasing, which in another edition would possibly be completely different. With such freedom for the performer to express him or herself in, the first suite, while the simplest and conventional, will offer a stunningly good insight into the beauty of the cello, a still neglected instrument.