Measuring 30 x 23 cm
||Johann Sebastian Bach: 6 Suites a Violoncello Solo
senza Basso. Edited by Bettina Schwemer and Douglas Woodfull-Harris.
||Kassel: Bärenreiter-Verlag (2000) BA 5215 (German
Edition); BA 5216 (English Edition); paper back. Price: DM 78.
||M-006-50571-5 (German Edition); M-006-50572-2 (English
Heinrich-Schütz-Allee 35, D-34131 Kassel, Germany.
||scholarly critical performing edition, accompanied by
separate volumes of critical commentary and facsimiles of five main sources
all at an affordable price.
||performers (esp. cellist)
|all the essential information required for
constructing an 'authentic' performance is provided here conveniently.
The source situation of Bach’s six suites for
unaccompanied cello (BWV 1007-1012) is not very clear: this is primarily
due to the fact that Bach’s autograph is lost, and four manuscript copies
that survive today do not seem to give reliable text in all aspects. The
text-critical study on these sources indicates that there were two autograph
manuscripts now considered lost, viz. an early draft and a fair copy. The
former is thought to be attested to a copy in the hand of Johann Peter
Kellner (copied in c1726), and the latter to a copy by Anna Magdalena
Bach (c1727-31). The other two surviving manuscripts date from the
late 18th century; they are considered to have derived from a yet another
lost intermediate source, which can be considered to have derived from
Bach’s fair copy independently of Anna Magdalena’s. Because none of them
reliably transmits the text of Bach’s original, all the surviving sources
are considered important for establishing the authoritative text.
In 1990, the Neue Bach Ausgabe (edited by Hans Eppstein) actually
published two versions of the work: Fassung A (based on the text by A.M.Bach
and J. P. Kellner) and Fassung B (based on the remaining sources). It is
widely felt that this edition was not very satisfactory with respect to
their editorial principles usually applied to the NBA edition, as the text
for each Fassung (version) was arrived at by effectively mixing up the
different traditions of sources.
|The edition reviewed here gives a single text based on Anna Magdalena’s
copy with all the major variants found in the other sources which are marked
on the music as ossia text on the same page (see the image on the
right), so that one can see at a glance what variants there are in the
sources. Minor variants and errors are discussed separately at the back
of the volume under ‘Critical Report’.
Furthermore, it does away with the articulation marks that were inaccurately
and incompletely given in the manuscript sources. This is compensated by
providing the facsimile edition of all the four manuscripts mentioned above
plus the first printed edition of the work by Janet et Cotelle in Paris
in c.1824 shown below.
Suite I, Prelude (BWV 1007/1), bar 22
This new edition (2000)
The NBA edition (1990)
||Each of the five sources is presented separately in a
large performance format (23 x 30 cm). They are:
A: Anna Magdalena Bach, manuscript copy
B: Johann Peter Kellner, manuscript copy (1726)
C: anonymous copy (second half of the 18th century)
D: anonymous copy (late 18th century)
E: First Edition, Paris (1824?)
Although these facsimile editions enclosed here are reproduced much
larger than those published in the NBA Kritischer Bericht (1991),
the clarity of musical text suffers from the high contrast of reproduction,
especially around the erasures and smudges, which is most unfortunate.
If you need to check such fine details, you really need to consult other
facsimile editions that distinguishes the gradation of greys. It should
be noted that the NBA Kritischer Bericht
volume does not include
the facsimile for Source E, which is apparently a very important source
for this work.
Also accompanied is the text volume (41 pages) explaining almost all
aspects of the work’s genesis and transmission as well as some important
issues of historical performance; it covers the sources, genesis of the
work, performance practice covering form and structure, instrument, historical
performance techniques, bowing, articulation, embellishments, vibrato,
dynamics, the execution of chords and scordatura, all with a useful list
of bibliography for further reading. Clearly this edition is intended for
serious performers who are seeking not only the critical knowledge of the
work but also a historically informed interpretation. It is a very innovative
publication, setting a new standard for performance studies for the next
Published on-line on 5 October 2000