Cello Trios: Bach Adagio from Violin Solo Sonata Nº 3 in C
This extremely chordal movement is written originally for one unaccompanied violin. Of its 141 quarter-note beats, no less than 121 (more than 85%) have at least one doublestop or chord on them. In fact 85% of all the notes in this movement are part of either a doublestop or a chord. There are often four very clear different voices: bass, tenor, alto and soprano. One wonders why Bach didn’t just write this piece for string orchestra from the beginning!
We can play it alone (for one solo cello), as a cello duo, a cello trio or even as a cello quartet. Here it is as a cello trio, divided up into three voices (high, medium and low) with occasional double-stopping for each voice to make up for the “missing” fourth cellist. No additional notes have been added apart from an optional harmonisation of bars 12 and 45-46 (shown in parenthesis). In bar 11, the third cello’s cadence note is taken down an octave, something that the cello’s C-string allows us to do.