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Cello Suites...which edition?

Discussion in 'Ask Patrick Neher [Archive]' started by Jeff Bonny, Jun 17, 2007.


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  1. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Which edition of the Bach Cello Suites do you like?
    I couldn't find the one I've had for years (musta lent it out and forgot who to) so I bought a new one yesterday. There were over ten different editions in stock at L&M and I know a lot more are available. I ended up buying the Edmund Kurtz one with the original copied page opposite the modern version because I liked that the "fixes" are minimal and can be compared to the original manuscript. This seemed like a good idea but when I started playing through them I realized this meant a bunch of page turning. Not sorry at all I bought this 87 page "Anna Magdalena" but I would like to have a 40 page version without the original manuscript and thought I'd ask your thoughts on various editions before I spent another hour or two leafing through them looking at slurs and bow markings deciding on one.

    Thanks.
    jeff
     
  2. PNeher

    PNeher

    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Firstly, "Good on Ya!" for studying the Suites, Jeff! They are great traiining pieces (tho' I personally hesitate to perform them in public only because I am used to hearing them performed so well by cellists, but that's MY problem). I prefer the Vandersall Editions. They are naked (no markings) and are true to the Anna M. hand copy. There are also the Pierre Fournier (Intl. Ed.) Edited cello versions that I like. And then Rabbath's editing of the first three are very iinteresting and helpful for many techniques, though the interpretation is decidedly non-Western. So, those are my three favorite. There are, as you say, MANY others. Going back to the manuscript copies is always helpful to interpret what was "actually" wanted by the composer, and can help with a modern interpretation.
    Best to you!
    PN
     
  3. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Is there a Paul Ellison edition?
     
  4. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    I bought the Fournier and ordered the Vandersall today. Thank you so much!

    jeff
     
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Paul Ellison wrote an article for Double Bassist on the suites about 5 years ago. At the time, I had no idea who he was LOL

    Anyway, he recommended clean true-to-Bach editions similar to Mr. Neher's advice and emphasized the cello suites as platforms for lifelong musical growth, reminiscing a lot on his own personal journey with them and how they helped to inspire him even to seek out Rabbath when he heard Rabbath's interpretations...but he did offer a small "puzzle solution" excerpt in the article as something of a starting point. I remember there being frequent string crossings and thumb position strategies.
     
  6. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    There are Ellison editions of some Suites under "B" in the Lemur sheet music - bass solo section.

    But where can the Vandersall editions be obtained?
     
  7. jdapodaca

    jdapodaca

    May 25, 2006
    El Paso, Texas
    Paul Ellison Suites 1 and 2

    The preview that Slava shows is the actual Anna Magdelena one. You don't get that along with the Ellison Edition, just the one copy of the suite with Ellison's notes.

    It's very neatly presented, obviously not hand-written like the Anna Magdelena one.
     
  8. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
  9. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    A cello edition, eh? The Shar page says it's out of stock.

    I have the Anna edition, the Peters/Sterling edition, and the Bernat edition, plus the Bradetich transcription/edition of the First Suite. The first is the cello "ur-text," and the others are bass editions. Any comments about the Peters/Sterling, Bernat, or Bradetich editions?
     
  10. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    It might be worth remembering that there is not, unfortunately, a true urtext of the cello suites, and that the Anna Magdalena manuscript is not necessarily the definitive transmission of Bach's original intent. There are four known manuscripts of the suites, but no autograph manuscript (in Bach's own hand); and comparisons of Anna Magdalena's copying work with other of Bach's pieces for which there are indeed autograph manuscripts show the number of errors that could pop up in her work. If anyone really wants to get nerdy about it, there's a very cool Critical Edition of the suites published by Barenreiter which includes facsimiles of all four of the manuscripts, plus a "clean" version (in modern notation) showing all of the variants in the bars where they occur. That way, you can see what all of the possibilities are for yourself.
     
  11. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Jeremy, that edition is the one that I referred to as the "ur-text." Your description is much better and more accurate than mine, of course.
     
  12. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    Oh, cool. It is a pretty neat edition, isn't it? It almost makes me think getting a PhD in musicology isn't a waste of time...almost.
     
  13. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Oh cool!
     
  14. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    The Canadian Shar site is where I ordered mine from without issue.
     
  15. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
  16. PNeher

    PNeher

    Mar 31, 2005
    Bellingham, WA
    Glad to see there is much lively thought and discussion about playing Bach on the bass. As indispensible the suites and the gamba sonatas are (and frankly the inventions and preludes & fugues from the Well Temp. Clav.) for study, and creating agility in your technique, and musical interpretation tools, I, personally, have never been able to pull them off in public concert as well as Rabbath, Meyer, or even Bradetich (YouTube link above). Not to say that it cannot happen ... just not in my life. I once performed the 5th Suite in public and was so personally humiliated (even tho' the audience was quite supportive) after many YEARS of working on the piece, that I vowed then that I would not play the Suites in public, even tho' my playing of them had some unique qualities to offer, the audience in general would rather "prefer" a cellist. Even when I have heard fabulous violists play the cello suites, certain audience members would scoff. SO... for ME (not for you necessarily), I use the pieces as improvisation training, technique development, musical interpretation tool development, and colors/inflection training. I hesitate to play the cello suites or gamba sonatas in performance. A recent request of just that had to be politely redirected... I played Telemann instead. For those of you interested in Baroque performance practice, I would actually NOT use Bach in that the volumous array of confusing interpretations of the "manuscripts" and scores is daunting. Perhaps focusing on Telemann and the like is a better place to begin... Bach perhaps being, you know, too "old school" by the time he was writing all that great instrumental stuff. So, more power to ya!, for all of you performing Bach Suites in public. To create beautiful music is, of course, our goal... let's hope some day we can develop an audience that appreciates the skill and depth required to play the Suites in performance, but likely this will happen only when we can match the ease and singing quality of the Suites played on their originally intended instrument.
    Best to you all!
    PN
     
  17. Pete G

    Pete G

    Dec 31, 2001
    Northern Virginia
    Maybe so, but it's now shown as out of stock there too.
     
  18. Here is a link where you can download the suites and many other things http://icking-music-archive.org/ I can't attest to the quality but the price is right. After recently performing one of the movements of the suites I had been working on for years and stepping on my #$%^ , from my point of view, I don't think I will be performing any of them anytime soon. That said these wonderful little puzzles will continue to be a part of my regular practice. Marc
     
  19. I agree 100%. I use them for exactly the same thing. As you mentioned I find them extremely useful for developing the technique you need for contemporary free improvisation. I own a good portion of the major New Music solo bass scores (Druckmann, Scelsi, Xenakis, Berio, etc.) and I don't find any of them as relevant to improvisation as working on Bach.
    Once you settle on not performing them they become even more useful - just learning a few bars you couldn't manage before is a great way to get a lot out of a limited practice session, as is taking a short phrase and transposing it over a few different keys and octaves.
     
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