Bach Cello Suites: Recording & Score Comparison Book Review

A brief comparison of the merits and faults of historic performance vs. more creative interpretations of Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suites.
# 152085 | 1,565 words | 6 sources | MLA | 2008 | US
Published on Dec 19, 2012 in Music Studies (Classical and Baroque) , Music Studies (Composers)

$19.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


This paper provides a brief comparison and review describing the merits and faults of historic performance versus more creative interpretations of Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suites. The recordings reviewed include Anner Bylsma, Pablo Casals, Pieter Wispelwey, and Janos Starker. The paper also includes a review and description of cello suite scores edited by Pablo Casals and Jacqueline Du Pre.

Pablo Casals
Jacqueline du Pre

From the Paper:

''Jacqueline du Pre's edition of the sixth suite provided fewer interpretive markings than Casals. Most of the comments in the edition are in regards to technical concerns (i.e.-in the Prelude she writes "move thumb with fingers in this passage" and in the Courante "conserve bow"). There are a few dynamic markings, though no tempo suggestions which she occasionally provides in the other suites (such as a grazioso marking at the beginning of the second suite Allemande).
''For the opening gesture of the Prelude, du Pre has chosen the other style of bowing that seems to work for this passage (three notes slurred together at a time, as opposed to Casals' two notes slurred, one separate). The bowings, particularly in the Prelude, do not fit well into the Baroque style of phrasing. du Pre slurs triplets in groups of three or six, and rarely with one separate and two slurred. The bowing choices in the second half of the Courante, are particularly strange and awkward (beginning up-bow on an upbeat followed by two downs, seems clumsy).
''It would seem that du Pre's interpretation of this suite, especially in terms of bowing and phrasing, is one that may have worked for her but not as well for the modern player. If a cellist did like and agree with du Pre's recordings of Bach, this edition could be a useful way to copy such a style. Other than this purpose, it is unlikely that a player today, particularly one with knowledge of historical performance practices, would need to use the du Pre edition.''

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Anner Bylsma (call no. CDISC 1703 )
  • Pablo Casals (first recording) (call no. CDISC 1175)
  • Janos Starker (call. no. CDISC 2782)
  • Pieter Wispelwey (call no. CDISC 3221)
  • Pablo Casals (editor), Continental Publishing Company.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Bach Cello Suites: Recording & Score Comparison (2012, December 19) Retrieved September 25, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Bach Cello Suites: Recording & Score Comparison" 19 December 2012. Web. 25 September. 2023. <>