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M4068 - Five Suites
BWV 1007-1011
by BACH, Johann Sebastian (1685-1750) (Composer), WEISBERG, Arthur (b. 1931) (Transcriber)
Picture of Five Suites
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About Five Suites
        Bach’s Six Suites for Violoncello are among the greatest music ever written for a solo instrument.  The present edition contains the first five of these Suites.  After careful consideration, the Sixth Suite was not included. This was done for several reasons. First and foremost is the fact that the Sixth Suite was not written for the cello, but rather for the viola pomposa.  This instrument had five strings, whereas the ‘cello has four, and this allowed Bach to use many more multiple stops: triple and quadruple chords.  Range is another problem, since this Suite goes well beyond the normal range of the bassoon, with a number of high F sharps and Gs.  I did not want to transpose to a lower key because I believe the key a composer chooses is an important part of the compositional process.  Finally, the Prelude of the Sixth Suite is quite different from the other five Preludes, in that it is the only one that is in a quite fast tempo.  In addition, it does not have a single rest.  The other Preludes are also very continuous, but with slow tempos and the many longer note values and resting places in them, they do allow for breaths.  An early edition of the Suites arranged for viola by William Primrose also left out the Sixth Suite.  

        The original manuscripts of the Suites are lost, and the music exists only in copies.  This means that the only things we can be sure of are the notes and the rhythms, although there are a very few accidentals and notes that are still in question.  What must be decided upon are the articulations, the dynamics, and the tempi.  If we look at the many editions for ‘cello, we see great differences in all of these.  None can claim to be definitive, including the present edition.  Instead, one should use the indications given as a guide, while realizing that they can be changed. 
Quick Facts
Orig. Imprint
LudwigMasters Publications
Bassoon(s) - Unaccompanied, Bassoon, Woodwind, Instrumental
Transcriptions, Suites
Copyright Year
Instrumentation – Bn unacc
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