Johann Sebastian Bach

Suite for solo cello No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009

    Description by James Liu

    The Suite in C major is probably the most popular of Bach's six suites for solo cello, among cellists and listeners alike. How could one resist the work's mix of nobility, exuberance, and relative contrapuntal simplicity? Casals, who more than any other performer brought these suites to the forefront of the cello repertory, found in it a heroic quality. Yet this suite also has close ties to its brethren. The Prelude recalls the discursive improvisatory flavor of the second suite, but opens with a descending figure and a mood of bright sunshine instead of the study in tragedy and tension that the second suite undertakes from the beginning. The Prelude also makes brilliant use of a mighty pedal point; a single note is held in the bass register while a series of progressively richer and richer figures build tension, pushing harder and harder for resolution. A similar figure is used to heighten a sense of pathos in the Prelude to the St. John Passion. Here, however, the pedal point develops instead into an expression of great warmth and happiness.

    After the Prelude come a lively Allemande, a Courante, a Sarabande, a double Bourrée, and a Gigue. The Sarabande proceeds in a series of triple and quadruple stops that offer the cellist plenty of room for gutsy expressiveness and at the same time outline the implied polyphony that so fascinates those who hear these works. For this suite, as in the fourth suite, Bach uses a pair of Bourrées for the galant element. These reinforce the sense of buoyant optimism that pervades the work, though a sudden minor-key turn in the second Bourrée reminds us that no triumph is ever complete. But the final Gigue restores the lightness of this bouncy, virtuosic suite, perhaps the most idiomatic to the cello of all six suites.

    Parts/Movements

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

    Appears On

    Year Title Label Catalog #
    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
    2018 Lawo Classics LWC 1154
    2018 Warner Classics 573594
    2018 ECM B002877102
    2018 Ondine ODE 13232D
    2018 Urania / Urania Records LDV 14036
    2018 EOS Guitar Edition EOS 2342009
    2018 Digressione Music DIGR 76
    2018 Accent ACC 24351
    2018 Sony Classical G010003910051I
    2018 Sony Classical 19075854652
    2017 Solo Musica SM 257
    2017 Solo Musica SM 270
    2017 Archiv Produktion 4796963
    2017 EPR-Classic EPRC 027
    2017 Linn Records CKD 585
    2017 Bridge BRIDGE 9503AB
    2017 Genuin GEN 17479
    2017 Brilliant Classics 95392
    2017 ECM 4813195
    2017 ECM
    2017 Sono Luminus SLE 70010
    2017 Sony Classical 88985345442
    2016 Archiv Produktion 0002894795814
    2016 Archiv Produktion
    2016 ABC Classics 4814553
    2016 Centaur Records CRC 3535
    2016 Alpha 890
    2016 Eudora EUD 1602
    2016 Exton 78
    2015 Deutsche Grammophon 4795448
    2015 Carpe Diem CD 16305
    2015 Well-Tempered Productions WTP 171
    2015 Arcana A 383
    2015 Alpha ALPHA 301
    2015 Berlin Classics 0300552BC
    2015 Vox 7911
    2015 Resonus Classics RSN 10147
    2015 Naïve E 8939
    2015 Delphian DCD 34150
    2015 Alto / Musical Concepts MCSCD 1253
    2015 Laurence Lesser
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    2015 ArcoDiva UP 0173
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    2015 Cameo Classics CC 9050
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    2003 Ambroisie 9926
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    2003 BCI Music (Brentwood Communication) 40320
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    2001 Classica d'Oro 4001
    2001 Teldec 81228
    2001 CBC Records 1141-3
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    2001 Oxingale Records 2000
    2001 Deutsche Grammophon 435471
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    2000 Accord 206372
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    1998 GM Recordings GM2054CD
    1998 Harmonia Mundi 7907071
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    1997 Archiv Produktion 449711
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    1997 Opus 111 30177
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    1997 RCA 61436
    1997 Supraphon 3241
    1997 Madacy 2974
    1997 EMI Music Distribution 66215
    1997 Wergo 4041-2
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    1996 Vox 5522
    1996 EMI Classics / Warner Classics 7243555605
    1996 London 452173
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