All of Bach: a project by the Netherlands Bach Society

Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat major

BWV 1010 performed by Bruno Cocset
Royal Theatre Carré, Amsterdam

"I hesitated between two celli. I tried them both in turn until I knew: this is the one!"

"I didn't know how to play this suite on an instrument that didn't seem made for it."

Contemplative and philosophical

A suite for a cello with a curvy bottom.

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. The Suite no. 4 in E-flat major is contemplative and philosophical, without the mood becoming truly elegiac. In the first three suites, the cellist could play a relatively high number of open strings, giving a high resonance and allowing the upper notes to sound freely. But here the sound is darker. The key of E-flat major involves three flats, meaning that the highest A string cannot usually be played as a separate string.

Special instrument
Cellist Bruno Cocset feels a special bond with this suite. It has a reputation for recalcitrance with cellists, because of its key. But when he heard a recording of the suite in a transcription for harpsichord, played by Gustav Leonhardt, he suddenly understood what it should sound like. For his recording for All of Bach, Bruno Cocset went in search of the right instrument for this suite. Along with cello builder Charles Riché, with whom he often works, he chose this cello, with a curvy bottom and a rosette. In the interview, he explains how this affects the sound.

Location
We are recording all the cello suites at a special location in Amsterdam. This recording was made at Koninklijk Theater Carré, in Amsterdam.


BWV
1010

Title
Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat major

Genre
chamber music (solo work)

Series
Six Cello Suites

Year
between 1717 and 1723

City
Köthen

Cast & Crew

release date 28 October 2016
recording date 27 June 2016
Location Koninklijk Theater Carré, Amsterdam
Cello Charles Riché, Alpes de Haute Provence, 2009, after 17th-century Italian style
Cellist Bruno Cocset
director and editor Lucas van Woerkum
MUSIC RECORDING Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
MUSIC EDITOR Guido Tichelman
Camera Remko Schnorr
Lights Zen Bloot
Focus pull Danny van Deventer
Grip Bjorn Schumacher
datahandling Luuk Walschot
interviews Onno van Ameijde
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Koninklijk Theater Carré
Supported by Ammodo

Vocal Texts

Original

Translation

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