FOR THE CURIOUS CELLIST

J.S. Bach: Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord Nº 5 BWV 1018

Here is Bach‘s Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord Nº 5 BWV 1018 with the violin part now transcribed for the cello.

The original key of this sonata is F minor (with four flats). If we were to transpose it down by a fifth (as we often do with violin music) this would take us into the key of Bb minor with five flats. So we will certainly not be doing that!

MOVT I: (SLOW)

This is a truly magical, mystical, divine seven and a half minutes of musical prayer. Beause it lies in the violin’s lower register (the highest note is Bb) it actually lies very comfortably for the cello in the original key, simply transposed down an octave from the violin part. So no matter what we do with the other movements of this sonata, this movement can always be played as a “stand-alone” piece in its original key, which is the first way in which we will present it. No notes or registers have been changed for the cello adaptation. The “Literal Transcription” always has all of Bach’s bowings and ornaments whereas the “Clean Version” has none of these. This original-key version is also our “Easier Version” because it uses consistently the Neck Region, only going above that region for four notes.

Edited Version     Clean Version    Literal Transcription   Piano Score

Here below is a play-along audio of the accompaniment part, “played” on the guitar. If you download it then it can be played at different speeds:

Audio Download

 

But we can also play this movement transposed into C minor (the same transposition that we have used for the second and fourth movements). Now, instead of going doing down a fourth we will raise the cello part up a fifth, bringing it up into a more singing (but also more technically complex) register. The accompaniment notes are sometimes taken down a fourth, and at other times raised up a fifth.

Edited Performance Version    Clean Performance Version      Literal Transcription

Keyboard Accompaniment Score: Adapted    Keyboard Accompaniment Score: Literal Transcription

Audio Download

 

MOVT II: ALLEGRO

In its original key of F minor this movement lies too high to be comfortably played by a normal cellist. It has therefore been transposed here down a fourth into C minor. Fortunately, the preceding movement (Movt I), when played in the perfectly convenient register of the original key (F minor) finishes on a chord of C major. This means that there is no harmonic shock in the transition between these two movements. And, also fortunately, the original key in which we play the following movement is also C minor, meaning that, once again, there is no sense of harmonic (key) shock in the transition between second and third movements.

Edited Performance Version    Clean Performance Version   Literal Transcription    Original Key Version

  Adapted Keyboard Score    Literal Transcription Keyboard Score (all notes down a fourth)

Here below is a play-along audio of the accompaniment part, “played” on the guitar. Because the cello and accompaniment start together, a one-bar introduction has been added to enable us to know when to start. If you download it then it can be played at different speeds:

Audio Download

 

MOVT III: ADAGIO

Just like the first movement, this movement can be played very comfortably in its original key of C minor in which its highest note is a Bb (also just like the first movement). No notes have been changed for the cello version and because Bach gave no bowing or articulation indications, the Literal and Clean Versions are identical. The only possible “Easier Version” would be a version for two cellos, each playing one line of the doublestops. This then becomes a VERY easy version, but how wonderful it is to be able to play such a beautiful piece while still in the early stages of learning to play the cello.

Edited Version     Clean/Literal Version   Duo Version (Easy)   Keyboard Score

Here below is a play-along audio of the accompaniment part, “played” on the guitar. Because the cello and accompaniment start together, a one-bar introduction has been added to enable us to know when to start. If you download it then it can be played at different speeds:

Audio Download

 

MOVT IV: VIVACE

This movement, just like the second movement, has been transposed down a fourth into the key of C minor, and for exactly the same reasons. Even though the third movement is not transposed, there is no “key-shock” in the transition between it and the fourth movement because both movements are now in the same key (C minor). Large sections of the keyboard accompaniment have been taken up a fifth rather than down a fourth. In bar 85 of the accompaniment the second note of the treble voice has been raised one step.

Edited Performance Version    Clean Performance Version   Literal Transcription    Original Key Version

 Adapted Keyboard Score    Literal Transcription Keyboard Score (all notes down a fourth)

Here below is a play-along audio of the accompaniment part, “played” on the guitar. Because the cello and accompaniment start together, a two-bar introduction has been added to enable us to know when to start. If you download it then it can be played at different speeds:

Audio Download