J.S. Bach - Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012 Transcription for guitar by Eva Beneke (article from www.evabeneke.com)
(6 Suiten für Violoncello Solo)
The Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello belong to the famous repertoire for solo-instrument that Bach gave to the world along with the six sonatas and partitas for violin solo, the seven works for lute and the suite for solo-flute.
With their unique musical language, the cello-suites fit the guitar particularly well.
Composed between 1717 and 1723 (most likely prior to the violin sonatas and partitas) scholars around 1900 believed the suites to be études. In 1889, 13-year old Pablo Casals found the music in a thrift shop in Barcelona, Spain. After a period of intense study, he went on to publicly perform all of the suites, becoming a pioneer to the performance of Bach´s work. It was not until 1925, at the age of 48, that he become the first to record all six suites. Their popularity subsequently soared, and Casals' original recording is still widely available today.
The history of transcribing and arranging the suites started from the very beginning. Since no autographed manuscript survived, secondary sources, like the hand-written copy by Bach´s second wife, Anna-Magdalena, serve as "authentic sources" - causing a variety of interpretations. Recent speculations even attribute the suites entirely to her (Prof. Martin Jarvis, Charles Darwin University Australia, see also cbc-news article & Deutscher Tonkünstlerverein) along with the Goldberg Variations (BWV 988) and the first book of Das Wohltemperierte Klavier (BWV 846-893).
Attempts to compose piano accompaniments for the suites include a notable effort by Robert Schumann. In 1923, the Polish-American pianist and composer Leopold Godowsky realized suites 2, 3 and 5 in full counterpoint for solo piano. The suites have been transcribed for numerous instruments, including marimba, mandolin and saxophone. Andrés Segovia was the first classical guitarist to include single movements, such as the Gavottes of the 6th suite, or the Prelude of the 1st (in G-Major) in his recitals.
Bach himself did not specify any intended instrument at all, and we know that the early 18th-century musician loved to construct and play new, unusual instruments. Anna Magdalena Bach´s manuscript is the only of three sources to indicate the tunings of the strings and informs the player that the suite is intended for an instrument “a cinq cordes”- very likely the five-stringed violoncello piccolo with the highest string tuned to E.
My transcription attempts to demonstrate the suitability for the guitar as a 6-string instrument. Certain effects I found to be very idiomatic to the guitar, like the unusual use of arpeggios, numerous runs and cross-string phrasings in the Prelude. Others remain challenging: how to replicate the sonority and vocal qualities of the slower movements, Allemande and Sarabande? Again, I rely on the guitar: campanella-fingerings, phrasing and fingering-decisions that support the instrument´s natural harmonics and an occasionally added or replaced bass-note in the octave below the original to produce more overtones are the only changes I made to Anna Magdalena´s autograph. The fast movements Courante, Prelude, Gigue are exaclty how Bach has written them, with the exception of a few cadenza-chords that have been filled out. My transcription remains a work in progress, and if you hear me play it in concert, you might find that it has evolved and changed. Isn´t that the nature of all music, be it modern or ancient, and certainly true for any transcription?
Mstislav Rostropovich called the 6th suite "a symphony for solo cello" and characterized its D-Major tonality as evoking joy and triumph, certainly best expressed in the Prelude with its unusually virtuosic cadenza.
For Bach, the suites offer a playground to explore the margins of the traditional baroque Suite. He inserts the popular Galanteries (Gavottes, Minuetts or Bourées) between the older dances Allemande, Courante, Sarabande and Gigue and adds a quasi improvisatory Prelude.
Symmetrically composed, the suites are of six movements each and seem to incorporate a certain character within each suite. (Daniel Melamed) As the longest, the Sixth Suite marks the musical stepping-stone into the age of the soloist, contemplation and virtuosity in one instrument.
Eva Beneke (Los Angeles, June 2010)
Carlo Domeniconi - Chaconne für Gitarre*
Carlo Domeniconi was born in Cesena, Italy in 1947, and lives in Berlin, Germany. He studied guitar and composition and taught at conservatories in both Berlin and Istanbul. Domeniconi is mostly know for his highly distinctive idiom and personal style, owed to his familiarity with Indian, Turkish and Arabian musical forms and tonal systems. His pieces for solo instruments, chamber music and orchestra are being played throughout the world.
The composer about his Chaconne:
please visit http://www.edition-ex-tempore.de/et1005.html for information about this piece.
Eva Beneke - Three pieces for guitar.
owes its title to the description of a ferry-ride across the English channel, with high waves, sunny episodes, and a strong wind blowing throughout.
The piece is written under the influence of matters of the heart, which can indeed be turbulent!
Say it again* “Joy de vivre” and its opponent, “worry” in a cascade of sixteenth notes. Joy wins!
Coming home* is written for my dad and for everyone who knows the feelings of returning to the familiar, beloved and challenging place that is home.
Eva Beneke (Berlin, October 2009)