Johann Sebastian Bach

Suite for solo cello No. 1 in G major, BWV 1007

    Description by James Liu

    It is thought that Bach wrote his six suites for unaccompanied cello between 1717 and 1723, while he was in the employ of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Cöthen and had two superb solo cellists, Bernard Christian Linigke and Christian Ferdinand Abel, at his disposal. However, the earliest copy of the suites dates from 1726, and no autographs survive. Thus a chronological order is difficult to prove, though one guesses that these suites were composed in numerical order from the way that they gradually evolve and deepen, both technically and musically.

    A Baroque suite is typically a collection of dance movements, usually in binary form with each half repeated. Common elements of the suite were the Allemande (German dance), a moderately slow duple-meter dance; the Courante, a faster dance in triple meter; the Sarabande, a Spanish-derived dance in a slow triple meter with emphasis on the second beat; and a Gigue (Jig), which is rapid, jaunty, and energetic. Bach took these typical dance forms and abstracted them, and then added a free-form, almost improvisatory Prelude which sets the tone for each suite, and a galanterie, an additional dance interposed between Sarabande and Gigue. (In the first two suites, Bach uses a pair of Minuets.) With these dances, Bach experimented and created the first, and arguably still the finest, solo works for a relatively new instrument.

    The first suite, in G major, gives the feel of innocent simplicity, and serves as a marvelous opening to these extraordinary works. The Prelude recalls the C major Prelude which opens Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier. Each piece sets a remarkable atmosphere with no melodies, only strong rhythmic patterns, cunningly evolving harmonies, and evocative textures. Bach uses short, arpeggiated phrases to build larger-scale crescendos and decrescendos, and these phrases in turn aggregate into still larger structures, evoking an endlessly more complicated fractal pattern. This quality would become a characteristic of Bach's cello writing, along with a distinctive rhythmic quality far removed from the character of the original dances. Bach's suiite may have been inspired by viol writing in France and cello writing in Italy, but there was nothing like it before the first suite, and little like it after, except for the five suites that followed.

    Parts/Movements

    1. Prelude
    2. Allemande
    3. Courante
    4. Sarabande
    5. Menuet 1
    6. Menuet 2
    7. Gigue

    Appears On

    Year Title / Performer Label / Catalog # AllMusic Rating
    2019
    Arcana
    A 459
    2019
    Linn Records
    CKR 396
    2019
    CTM Classics
    2019
    Hyperion
    CDA 68261
    2019
    Animal Music
    ANI 0762
    2019
    Channel Classics
    CCSSA 41119
    2019
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMM 90229394
    2019
    Orchid Classics
    ORC 100096
    2019
    Warner Classics
    0190295633134
    2018
    Various Artists
    ABC Classics
    2018
    Alpha
    361
    2018
    Christophorus
    CHR 77422
    2018
    Raumklang
    RK 3405
    2018
    Harmonia Mundi
    HMX 290892037
    2018
    Carpe Diem
    16318
    2018
    Warner Classics
    573594
    2018
    ECM
    B002877102
    2018
    Ondine
    ODE 13232D
    2018
    Urania / Urania Records
    LDV 14036
    2018
    Accent
    ACC 24351
    2018
    Sony Classical
    19075854652
    2018
    Sony Classical
    G010003910051I
    2017
    Solo Musica
    SM 257
    2017
    Solo Musica
    SM 270
    2017
    Archiv Produktion
    4796963
    2017
    EPR-Classic
    EPRC 027
    2017
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    CKD 585
    2017
    Bridge
    BRIDGE 9503AB
    2017
    NEOS
    NEOS 21602
    2017
    Brilliant Classics
    95392
    2017
    Decca
    2017
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    2017
    ECM
    4813195
    2017
    Sono Luminus
    SLE 70010
    2017
    Berlin Classics
    0300842BC
    2016
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    0002894795814
    2016
    Archiv Produktion
    2016
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    4814553
    2016
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    EUD 1602
    2016
    Exton
    78
    2015
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    4795448
    2015
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    CD 16305
    2015
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    A 383
    2015
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    7911
    2015
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    0300552BC
    2015
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    RSN 10147
    2015
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    ALPHA 301
    2015
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    E 8939
    2015
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    DCD 34150
    2015
    Laurence Lesser
    2015
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    PRC 5186555
    2015
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    UP 0173
    2015
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    ADW 75689
    2015
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    CC 9050
    2015
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    CHR 72682
    2015
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    POMCD 1928
    2015
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    513074
    2014
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    AAP 14001
    2014
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    88843092602
    2014
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    2014
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    2014
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    2564624199
    2014
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    2014
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    2014
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    2014
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    BGR 317
    2014
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    544819
    2014
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    0825646394111
    2014
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    VVTCD 107
    2014
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    ES 2036
    2014
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    AR 00020
    2013
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    2013
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    88765434782
    2013
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    CRC 32633264
    2013
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    WHLIVE 00602
    2013
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    HCD 32731
    2013
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    V 5300
    2013
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    LIDI 010323911
    2013
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    E 8937
    2013
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    88765439332
    2013
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    2564654227
    2013
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    MS 1450
    2013
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    5638088028
    2013
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    2013
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    2013
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    DSK 11077
    2013
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    88765438572
    2012
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    2012
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    EPRC 012
    2012
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    2012
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    2012
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    2012
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    CKD 396
    2012
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    233503
    2012
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    CLA 101422
    2012
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    2012
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    CAL 1641
    2012
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    2012
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    88697561282
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    006
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    9659212
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    1783
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    1
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    6600
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    1336
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    4778167
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    752307
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    7321
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    73
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    24196
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    5
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    3
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    4662532
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    4612942
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    5099922835
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    5628782
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    119
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    2950
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    38018
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    88697223169
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    93668
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    0012842BC
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    5626112
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    563882
    2008
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    93160
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    53751
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    2007
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    000988202
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    93132
    2007
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    002
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    67541
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    901970
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    531
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    93320
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    5193
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    5113
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    1177
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    220503
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    675220
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    5099950416
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    2100
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    151
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    93102
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    1613
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    2907372
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    091
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    9171/72
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    4636712
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    5144/52
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    2115
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    5637328239
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    0011752
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    7853
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    7243545650
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    92215
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    103487
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    204580
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    45086
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    52
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    1190
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    2005
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    450660
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    4706442
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    92391
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    1338
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    3336
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    192
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    62374
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    0316
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    029
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    480303
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    705
    2003
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    056/7
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    390452
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    2003
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    20010
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    2041/42
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    9926
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    EMI
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    000204902
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    2000
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    4608162
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    1155
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    9003
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    1000
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    435471
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    12298
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    5522
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