Bach wrote six Suites for cello alone and six Partitas for violin alone. They were written in 1720; he was 35 years old. The most remarkable fact about these masterpieces is that they were written at all. In 1720, Bach was employed at the provincial court at Koethen, Saxony. His duties there were to provide music for specific occasions. Sunday services, weddings, and special events at court required his services as organist and composer, but there is no apparent reason for the writing of substantial works for cello or violin alone. There were no cello or violin masters in Bach's immediate vicinity. So, for whom were these works written and who played them? We don't know. One can only assume that Bach was flexing his compositional muscles in this labor of love. It is a lucky thing for us that he did. He was the first composer of stature to write for cello alone. In that, he was generations ahead of his time. Not until the 20th century do we find music comparable to Bach's for the solo cello.
The Suite was a popular form in Bach's day. It came from France, as the French movement titles suggest, and was embraced by German composers as a neat way to compose dance-like music for public use. There are usually 6 movements in every Suite. The Prelude is the curtain-raiser and foreshadows the atmosphere of the work, the Allemande is more or less stately, the Courante is on the quick side, the Sarabande, very slow and introspective, the BourÃ©es (or Gavottes) lighthearted, and the final Gigue is a romp. This is a very general description. The particulars vary from Suite to Suite. For me, the following describes the Suites: No. 3 in C Major - majestic, very positive. No. 2 in D Minor - introspective, delicate and the shortest of the three. No. 6 - a very different story. It was written for either the five-stringed Violoncello Piccolo or Viola Pomposo which was held under the chin and had a very short career. But, the instrument inspired Bach to write this masterpiece. No. 6 is in turn a sunny, rhapsodic, deeply philosophical work of large and generous proportions. It has a soprano quality because the cello uses a great deal of its uppermost registers. It is interesting to note that Bach has no dynamic markings in any of the Suites, except for No. 6, and here only in the first few measures of the Prelude. Bach trusted his performers to come up with the right interpretation.
J.S. Bach ( 1685 -1750) He was born in Eisenach, Germany into a vast family of musicians. Largely self-taught, he survived a hard childhood and became the most important member of the Bach family. His genius combined outstanding performing ability with supreme creative powers. His art was of an encyclopedic nature, drawing together techniques, styles, and general achievements of his own and of earlier generations, and leading on to new perspectives, which influence is still felt to this way. Bach was twice married, he fathered twenty children, most of whom did not reach adulthood. He wrote Cantatas (sacred and secular), Masses, Passions and Oratorios, Motets, Chorales, Sacred Songs, Arias, works for organ and keyboard, Chamber music, Orchestral music, studies in counterpoint and canon. His last post was at the St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, where he is buried. (Notes by Michael Rudiakov)
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Michael Rudiakov: 1934 - 2000
Paris born Michael Rudiakov began his musical studies with his father, pianist Eliahu Rudaikov. After serving in the Israeli army 1952-1955, he spent his next year as principal cellist of the opera orchestra in LÃ¼beck, Germany, the childhood home of his mother. In 1956, he arrived in the USA as an America-Israel Foundation scholarship recipient of study cello with Bernard Greenhouse at the Manhattan School of Music. In 1964, he became principle cellist of the Indianapolis Symphony and there he met his wife Judith. Their son Ariel was born in 1965 and in that same year the family moved to Israel where Michael was the principal cellist of the Jerusalem Symphony. Upon returning to the USA in 1966, he became a faculty member of Sarah Lawrence College where he directed a prestigious chamber music series for 11 years. During this time he joined the Composer's String Quartet, in residence at Columbia University. He was also a faculty member of the New England Conservatory. In 1967, his daughter Liselotte was born in New York City. In 1985, Michael became the Artistic Director of the Manchester Music Festival and lived full time in the village of Manchester since 1995.
Michael Rudiakov has recorded more than 30 discs, was a prizewinner in the Casal's Competition in Mexico, and a Grammy Award nominee. Michael played a Grancino cello made in 1690. He died on November 17, 2002 at age 66 from a heart attack. He was beloved by audience world wide for his inspiring and informative comments before concerts, and for his exquisite playing.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Suite No. 3 in C Major: Prelude
5. BourrÃ©e I & II
7. Suite No. 2 in D Minor Prelude
11. Menuetto I & II
13. Suite No. 6 in D Major: Prelude
17. Gavotte I & II