Johann Sebastian Bach. Suites BWV 1007, 1008, 1009
Transcription for Chitarrone of three suites for cello
Chitarrone versus violonchelo?
A surprising new transcription of three cello suites J. S. Bach.
We talked about the best music my cousin Mr. Wilhelm Friedemann of Dresden, along with those famous lutenists, Mr. Weiss and Mr. Kropffganss, played in our house.
This is what can be read in a letter to Elias Bach, a relative of J. S. Bach, wrote on August 11, 1739. Two German musicians and composers, Weiss and Kropffganss are known as the most eminent virtuosos on his instrument.
The lute reached its peak at the beginning of the eighteenth century and both musicians are regarded as the last representatives of this development.
John Sebastian Bach himself seems to be very liberal with his own pieces and those of other composers. The rewrite, used parts for other compositions, and most importantly for our reflection: the adaptations for other instruments. The best known example is his own transcription of the Suite No. 5 for Cello (BWV 1011) for the lute. This transcript is kept handwritten to tablature (BWV 995).
We do not know much about Bach’s attitude toward the lute and it is doubtful whether he really knew all about the details of this instrument. The interpreter is confronted here with very complicated and difficult positions and unusual lines of polyphony. But we also know that Bach is not concerned about technical problems in most of his works.
What could have on the head when dealing with the Bach lute? Several things are possible: the so-called «baroque lute» with his pitch in D minor (probably this was the instrument he used SLWeiss) or perhaps «Theorbo,» a tune on the lute under the sun with some strings or lower, allowing a wider musical tessitura. Or perhaps the key instrument «lautenwerk» or «clavilaúd?. Two of these rare instruments were found in Bach’s house and we know that he had often tried with them. For a transcript of the suites for cello, think of all these instruments, but the results show very different needs, opportunities and of course differences in the sound.
Does it make sense to transcribe for a plucked string instrument, written music for bowed string one?. To respond, remember, above all, the transcript made by Bach himself from Suite No. 5, apart from the many versions of guitarists such as Andres Segovia, Julian Bream and Narciso Yepes, or lutenists as Nigel North, Hopkinson Smith and others. So, there are so many answers to this question, the problem seems to have no great importance.