Home / Program

Details for our 2019 Festival Program and Line-up will be announced at the first of our 2019 Concert Series Events:

2019 CONCERT SERIES – CONCERT 1 – Zoe Knighton, cello. 

Sunday 28th April at 2:00pm – St. Matthew’s, Albury.

Purchase tickets

Johann Sebastian Bach

Suite 1 in G major BWV 1007

Prelude

Allemande

Courante

Sarabande

Menuet 1 and 2

Gigue

Suite 6 in D major BWV 1012

Prelude

Allemande

Courante

Sarabande

Gavotte 1 and 2

Gigue

Debate still rages about the origins and intention behind these suites. Were they written for the cellists of the court where Bach was employed at the time? Were they written for a strange instrument called a violoncello da spalla (an instrument larger than a viola, designed for those unfamiliar with playing a gamba and played horizontally supported by a strap)? Or were they essentially a set of exercises for Bach to practise his skills? Without the surviving original manuscript or documentation there is much speculation and hearsay; but as information comes to light, one thing is mostly constant – the notes that are on the page.

But which page?! Are we to trust the Anna Magdalena transcript; his student Kellner’s manuscript or the first printed edition? Dealing with these decisions and playing these suites brings with it an education in understanding and coming to terms with one’s own aesthetic. In effect, the performance of these suites becomes a musical signature of each cellist.

 Since our beloved Pablo Casals brought these works to public attention and presented them in their entire form, these six suites have formed the backbone of musical understanding for every modern cellist. The notes themselves in the early suites are relatively simple but the decision on how to play them can be crippling.

Rostropovich articulates every cellist’s dilemma “The hardest thing to achieve in interpreting Bach is the necessary equilibrium between human feelings – the heart which undoubtedly Bach possessed – and the severe, serious and profound aspect of interpretation…It’s hard to find something the heart responds to and which is not artificial to one’s own nature.”

Pablo Casals says it most poignantly “How could anyone think of Bach as cold when these suites seem to shine with the most glittering kind of poetry”.

The first suite begins in the most beautiful, simple way. In a harmonic exploration of G major, we discover the emotional significance of all the related keys. Even if it was composed merely as an exercise, it is an incredibly illuminating one! In comparison, the 6th prelude is more than twice as long and complex. It is the only movement that holds any dynamic marking on the surviving manuscripts from Anna Magdalena.

To compare the rest of the dance movements between these two suites is like comparing grandparent and child. There are distinct similarities in character, humour and sentiment with the first suite full of optimism and the 6th suite full of a joyful wisdom.

Of all the works I play, these seem the most changing in my own perception of them. They grow with me and allow so many different angles of understanding.

Zoe Knighton

Purchase tickets