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  • Writer's pictureSimon Rushby

Prelude from Cello Suite No.1 in G major - J.S. Bach

Updated: Jan 29, 2021

#listeneveryday 25 Nov 2020

We're well into week 4 of #listeneveryday and we haven't had any Bach yet - time to put that right. I've chosen a piece that, although written for a solo string instrument, has so much texture in it that it could be for full orchestra. Bach wrote a great many pieces for solo violin and solo cello and in them he laid bare his unrivalled talent for opening harmonic and sonic doors for his listeners with just a simple melodic line.

When you listen to the Prelude from Bach's first Cello Suite (he wrote six in all) you hear, on the surface, arpeggios and scales. Listen a little deeper and you hear harmonies, suspended chords, full string sonorities. Go to the next level and you have a full narrative, best described by cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who performed the piece last year on the banks of a river in Christchurch, New Zealand to give comfort to a city hit by tragedies in recent years. Ma said:

"That piece, in some strange coded way that culture does, represents in many ways the water that is flowing right in front of us...It also represents when something very violent and tragic interrupted the flow...Then this piece also includes the rebuilding and the re-imagining of the better version of the very first".

More to listen to

Here it is played on a bass guitar by Jacques Bono

The Prelude from Bach's Violin Partita in E, played by Hilary Hahn

A new #listeneveryday post is published every weekday! Comment below or tweet @SimonRushby with your suggestions for future music.

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