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Kim Kashkashian

JS Bach: Six Suites For Viola Solo BWV 1007-1012


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Walking to Bach with Kim Kashkashian
1 Prelude  
2 Allemande  
3 Courante  
4 Sarabande  
5 Menuet I / II  
6 Gigue  
7 Prelude  
8 Allemande  
9 Courante  
10 Sarabande  
11 Menuet I / II  
12 Gigue  
13 Prelude  
14 Allemande  
15 Courante  
16 Sarabande  
17 Gavotte I / II  
18 Gigue  
19 Prelude  
20 Allemande  
21 Courante  
22 Sarabande  
23 Bourree I / II  
24 Gigue  
25 Prelude  
26 Allemande  
27 Courante  
28 Sarabande  
29 Bourree I / II  
30 Gigue  
31 Prelude  
32 Allemande  
33 Courante  
34 Sarabande  
35 Gavotte I / II  
36 Gigue  
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Here are Bach's six cello suites, played on the viola by one of the instrument's greatest exponents, Kim Kashkashian. The suites were once described by Pablo Casals as "the very essence of Bach…a whole radiance of space and poetry pours forth from them."  These qualities are in abundance in the present version, recorded at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York in November and December 2016, and February 2017.

Bach composed the suites around 1720 when he was in the employ of Prince Leopold of Anhalt-Köthen.  The autograph manuscript is no longer extant, and the earliest known copies date from 1726 and 1730, the latter made by Anna Magdalena Bach.  Bach himself made a transcription of an arrangement of Suite V for lute, however, which has survived. Differences in articulation between the versions invite a certain expressive liberty. There has also, in recent years, been speculation about the instrument for which Bach wrote the music: was it the violoncello as we know it today, or was it the violoncello da spalla, the small cello played braced against the shoulder?  Were the suites played on the viola in Bach's lifetime Perhaps. Bach's fondness for the viola is documented; he liked to play it in chamber music and also directed cantatas from the viola.

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