All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor

BWV 1008 performed by Steuart Pincombe
Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

"The Sarabande has a reverence in it, it's almost a memory of something beautiful."

Always searching

The Courante is as quick as lightning.

Cello Suite no. 2 in D minor is one of the favourite pieces of cellist Steuart Pincombe. So he was delighted when we asked him to record this suite in the Main Hall of the Concertgebouw, in Amsterdam. The searching character of the piece suits Pincombe’s outlook. In playing music, he always tries to create something new, rather than recreating the same thing, as he explains in his interview.

Six Cello Suites
The Six Cello Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach belong to the Old Testament of cello literature. Every cellist who looks at the music immediately feels how naturally the notes are draped around the strings of the instrument. Yet there are many questions and discussions about these Suites a Violoncello Solo senza Basso. Did Bach really write the music for cello, or at least for cello alone? And when did he write it? At the court at Köthen or earlier?
The suites follow a path from simplicity to increasing virtuosity. If you were to divide the six cello suites into two equal sets, then Suites no. 2 and no. 5 each form a solemn central section in minor. Although it is not technically demanding, Bach’s Suite no. 2 evokes a world filled with shadowy rooms and melancholy dance evenings, which is far removed from the sunny landscapes of Suite no. 1.

Suite no. 2
The Prelude of Suite no. 2 opens with a triad signal of three ascending notes, which plainly states the key of D minor. Expectations for what directly follows are also set straight away. Despite the apparently rippling movement of the semiquavers, Bach works almost imperceptibly towards a climax around the golden section, followed by a short and dramatic silence. An epilogue is followed by some long final chords, which the cellist can choose to play as an arpeggio or as a double stop. Whereas the progress of the Allemande seems to be impeded by tough double stops, the Courante is as quick as lightning, as if the devil is at your heels. Steuart Pincombe likes to play the piece very fast, as a counterpart to the elegant and stately Sarabande, which offers the performer a moment of elegance, with pensive trills and sighs to indicate continual cares. The Menuet II brings brief respite, and the closing Gigue that could have been composed in a flowing 12/8 time is instead written in a more rigid 3/8, as if Bach is trying to keep the heroic big leaps in check. The cellist continually breaks free with diabolic little dances, ending on a lively high D.


Suite No. 2 in D minor

chamber music (solo work)

Six Cello Suites

between 1717 and 1723


Cast & Crew

release date 19 October 2018
recording date 12 February 2018
Location Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
Cellist Steuart Pincombe
Cello unknown
Director and editor Onno van Ameijde
Music recording Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
Music edit and mix Guido Tichelman
Camera Danny Noordanus, Nina Badoux
Lights Zen Bloot, Sander Idema
Grip Auke Verhoeff
Data handling and camera-assistant Eline Eestermans
Interview Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
Producer Jessie Verbrugh
Supported by Ammodo

Vocal Texts




You might also like these works