Saturday
20. March 2010

Klangraum Krems Minoritenkirche

Suites for violoncello solo Johann Sebastian Bach

Heinrich Schiff (cello)

Johann Sebastian Bach:

Suite I G-Dur BWV 1007
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuett I/II, Gigue

Suite II D-Moll BWV 1008
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Menuett I/II, Gigue

Suite IV Es-Dur BWV 1010
Prélude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Bourrée I/II, Gigue

When the sun falls through the windows of the mirror hall of the Renaissance castle in Köthen where Johann Sebastian Bach was working for several years as Prince Leopold von Anhalt-Köthen’s court composer, the rays multiply to an infinite light of brightness. In the suites for violoncello solo, which Bach composed in Köthen like most of his instrumental music, numerous monophonic phrases of melody and motif parts in the multiplied sequence that develops each musical movement make up a polyphony in which the single lines unite into a harmonic cupola. If the basso continuo is missing in these solo works, it does not mean a loss of harmony, since the polyphonic elements of one single string instrument are made to vibrate. The cello’s voice is made up of many little voices and ambiguously unfolds in many layers. Bach taps the full potential of the impressive bass reservoir of the violoncello and at the same time makes music aim at the bright light in tenor heights. Musicians and listeners alike are surrounded by sound mirrors, again and yet again bringing forth new dancing figures. Bach’s suites for violoncello form the peak of a process in which dances from all over Europe have been gathered in collections since the end of the 16th century; dances that were mostly rooted in the common people’s traditions, yet also found their ways to aristocratic circles. After a weighty prelude, Heinrich Schiff is going to put the united allemandes, courantes, sarabandes, gavottes, menuettes, bourrées and gigues to pulsating and impulsive motion, and in this cosmos of instrumental music is going to draw the sum of his musical experiences. One single instrument will be the source of a great bundle of sound rays to illuminate the Minorite Church.

© Heinrich Schiff

© Heinrich Schiff