Cello Suite No.2 in D minor, BWV 1008

Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685 - d. 1750)
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Composer: Johann Sebastian Bach (b. 1685 - d. 1750)

Performance date: 04/07/2019

Venue: St. Brendan’s Church

Composition Year: c.1720

Duration: 00:21:12

Recording Engineer: Gar Duffy, RTÉ

Instrumentation: vc

Instrumentation Category:Solo

Artists: Emmanuelle Bertrand - [cello]

key of D minor is often described as one of despair and melancholy. The
devastating Chaconne from Bach’s D minor Partita is thought by some to manifest
his musical reaction to the sudden death of Maria Barbara. By analogy the D
minor Cello Suite may reflect some of these emotions – it is certainly a dark
and sombre work, similar to the Fifth Suite the other minor key work in the
series. The Prélude opens hesitantly
as if feeling its way in the darkness, but gradually opens up to let in flashes
of light. The Allemande is a movement
of great deliberation and intensity. Forkel wrote that Bach’s melodies were
often uncommon, strange, and entirely new, hitherto unheard-of turns, and
the melody of this Allemande could
well be considered uncommon and strange.


‘running’ nature of the Italian style Courante
is most obvious in this Suite because it consists almost entirely of sixteenth
notes which give the movement a perpetual sense of forward motion. The Sarabande of the Second Suite is
possibly the most expressive and well-known one from all the Cello Suites. The
music moves in a predominantly stepwise fashion within a small range allowing
the performer to explore the darkness. The first Menuet brings to mind the second Menuet of the First Suite. It is in a minor key and based on a
chaconne bass but unlike the First Suite, makes great use of double and triple
stops. Its partnering dance is a simple delightful piece, proving that music
does not have to be complex in order to be effective. The Gigue is in a typical Bach French/Italian hybrid style and almost
bipolar in emotion. The first characteristic we meet is of a chipper and gay
disposition which starkly contrasts with the persistent anguished emotion of
the latter half of the piece.