FOR THE CURIOUS CELLIST

Bach: Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord Nº 6 BWV 1019

Here is Bach’s Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord No 6 BWV 1019, transcribed for cello. For the cello transcription this sonata has been transposed down a fourth from its original key of D major into G major.

For each movement, two different keyboard scores are offered:

  • the “Literal Transcription” in which all notes are taken down a fourth and
  • the “Adapted Version” in which many of the lowest notes and passages in the piano accompaniment parts have been transposed up a fifth instead of down a fourth to avoid the register being too low.

MOVEMENT I: ALLEGRO

No notes have been changed for this cello transcription which means that the only difference between the “Literal Transcription” and the “Clean Performance Version” is the presence of Bach’s bowings in the Literal Transcription. The cello parts of movements I and II are published together for simple layout reasons, but the accompaniment scores (and audio) are downloadable separately.

Movts I + II: Edited Performance Version    Movts I and II: Clean Performance Version   Movts I and II: Literal Transcription

Piano Score: Movt I: Adapted Version    Piano Score: Movt I: Literal Transcription

Here below are two downloadable audios (computer-generated) of the accompaniment “played” on the guitar. The first one is at a practice (slow) speed. If we actually download them then we can play them at different tempi with the wonderfully useful and simple Amazing Slowdowner program. Because the accompaniment and cello start together, a one-bar introduction has been added as well as a few seconds to allow us to sit down with the cello after pressing the start button.

Audio Download

 

MOVEMENT II: LARGO

This movement is originally in E minor, the relative minor of the sonata’s original key (G major). This means that in our version, transposed down a fourth, the new key is B minor. The cello part of this movement is published (printed) with the first movement because it is only five lines of music. In the “Performance Versions” bars 10-15 of the cello part have been taken up one octave.

 Piano Score: Adapted Version        Piano Score: Literal Transcription

Audio Download

 

MOVEMENT III: (FAST)

This is, in both of Bach’s different versions of this sonata, a movement for harpsichord solo. In each of his two different versions of this sonata, Bach uses totally different pieces for this third movement. Only the lesser-known of these two alternative pieces is offered here (the other one is available for free download at imslp.org). This piece is so attractive and entertaining with its ultra-fast light-footed syncopations, that as well as offering its solo keyboard version, we also present it in a version for cello with a single-voice bass-clef accompaniment (the left-hand line of the keyboard, which can also be played by a second cellist or any other bass instrument). This movement is originally the Courante from Bach’s Partita Nº 6 for Harpsichord BWV 830.

The original key of this movement is E minor, which is the relative minor of this Sonata’s basic key of G major. Just like for all the other movements of this Sonata, for our cello version we have transposed it down a fourth, so now it is now in B minor. This is a sparkling high-speed movement and it probably needs to be played “as fast as possible”. We can play it lightly like a fast-flowing mountain river, or alternatively like a high-octane Jimmy Hendrix rock extravaganza. In either case there are two cello passages (bars 1-4 and 86-97) which could perhaps be transposed up a fifth rather than down a fourth, in order to keep them out of the grunting register. Some octave changes have been made in the accompaniment line to keep it within the range of a second cello.

For layout reasons the cello parts of movements III and IV are published (printed) together. The accompaniment scores are however published separately. Both the third and fourth movements are made considerably more user-friendly when notated in doubletime, in which each note has twice the rhythmic value (length) as in Bach’s original notation. In this way the 650 semidemiquavers (32nd notes, with three beams) that constitute more than half of the notes of the cello part in the third movement, are converted into semiquavers. And likewise for the (almost) 200 semidemiquavers (more than a quarter of all the notes) found in the keyboard and cello parts of the fourth movement. This not only makes the rhythms easier to read but also makes the page much less black (see Bach: Rhythmic Curiosities). In the Literal Transcription Bach’s rhythmic notation is used whereas the Performance Versions are notated in “doubletime”.

In all the versions a one-bar keyboard introduction to the third movement has been added in case we are playing with the prerecorded accompaniment. Without this introduction we have no way of knowing how to synchronise our start with the accompaniment audio.

 Movts III + IV: Edited Performance Version  Movts III + IV: Clean Performance Version  Movts III + IV: Literal Transcription

Movt III: Score: Cello and Adapted Bass Accompaniment    Movt III: Score: Cello and Literal Bass Accompaniment

  Solo Keyboard Part (Original Key)

Here below are two downloadable audios (computer-generated) of the accompaniment “played” on the guitar. The first is a little slower than the second. If we actually download them then we can play them at different tempi. Because the accompaniment and cello start together, a one-bar introduction has been added as well as a few seconds of silence to allow us to sit down with the cello after pressing the start button.

Audio Download

 

MOVEMENT IV: ADAGIO

The cello part to this Adagio is published together with the third movement. It has been transposed down a fourth and no notes have been changed in the cello’s voice. Here below are the accompaniment scores, notated in doubletime just like the third movement (see above). In the “Adapted Version” some of the lowest notes of the accompaniment have been raised a fifth rather than taken down a fourth.

Keyboard Score: Adapted Version            Keyboard Score: Literal Transcription

In the following recorded accompaniment there is quite a lot of rubato. If this music doesn’t breathe between the phrases it just becomes boring, losing most of its delicate sensitivity.

Audio Download

 

MOVEMENT V: ALLEGRO

Two small ornamental cadenzas have been added in this movement, one for the cello just before the reprise, and one for the piano as a lead-in to bar 72 after the G.P. (General Pause). This idea was simply stolen from the magnificent recordings of these Sonatas by Rachel Podger and Trevor Pinnock.

           Edited Performance Version    Clean Performance Version     Literal Transcription

Keyboard Score: Adapted Version          Keyboard Score: Literal Transcription

Here below is a downloadable audio (computer-generated) of the accompaniment “played” on the guitar. If we actually download it then we can play it at different tempi. Because the accompaniment and cello start together, a two-bar introduction has been added as well as a few seconds of silence to allow us to sit down with the cello after pressing the start button.

Audio Download