Bach’s Cello Suite No. 6

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.

Frames of reference