In August 1954, at age of 77 Pau Casals (1876-1973) performed Bach’s G-Major Cello Solo at Abbaye “Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa”, a Catholic monastery located south of the small border town Prades in France (Catalonia of Spain is on the other side of border). Pau Casals settled in Prades in earlier 1940’s after the Spanish civil war in 1930’s, and he came back to Prada as the conductor and cellist at Prades Festival in 1950’s. A small museum in Prades is dedicated to the memory of Pablo Casals.
These visual illustrations attempt to complement a contemporary music take on Unaccompanied Cello music. This version is derivative of the iconic J.S. Bach Cello Suites written 300 years earlier with both compositions containing implied three-to-four-voice contrapuntal and polyphonic music in a single line. Uniquely, composer Norman adds ingenious changing metric structural patterns posing an added challenge to the performer. The effect is a rich rhythmic mosaic indicative of the Baroque aesthetic.
These days I seem to be mostly listening to cello music. I was recently introduced to this wonderful video performance by Ashley Bathgate of a piece written for her by Andrew Norman, inspired by J S Bach’s Prelude from the Fourth Cello Suite. It’s energetic, bouncy, playfully repetitive and fantastic.
Brazilian dance ensemble Grupo Corpo performing their 1996 piece Bach, (“it’s like a game between what one hears and what one sees”), choreographed by Rodrigo Pederneiras with music by Marco Antônio Guimarães (channelling J.S.Bach).
Cello Suite no. 6 in D major, performed by Sergey Malov on a violoncello da spalla (shoulder cello) at the Gashouder of the Westergasfabriek in Amsterdam.
In this last suite, which is also the longest, Bach makes the instrument ascend to heaven. He does so by using an extra fifth string – ‘a cinq cordes’, as Anna Magdalena Bach described it in the manuscript. The fifth string lies a fifth above the A string, which is usually the highest. You might even argue that Bach allows the cellist to transcend their own instrument.
Recorded for All of Bach, a project by the Netherlands Bach Society.
I found this video at Open Culture and couldn’t resist sharing it here.
Since 1999, the French juggling group Les Objets Volants (The Flying Objects) have been entertaining audiences worldwide. Beyond juggling, their shows incorporate elements of theater, visual arts and even mathematics. And the group takes special pride in exploring new ways of handling and manipulating everyday objects. Which brings us to the performance above. There you can see Les Objets Volants perform Bach’s Prélude N°1. (which more typically sounds something like this) on “boomwhackers,” those hollow, color-coded, plastic percussion tubes, which are tuned to different musical pitches. Recorded last March, the clip is an outtake from a Les Objets Volants show called “Liaison Carbone,” which explores concepts in physics. Enjoy.