Suite No. 3 in C major, 4th movement
In this session, Professor Anne Gastinel, and student Michelle Tang work together on the Suite No. 3 in C major, 4th movement by Johann Sebastian Bach. This movement is the Sarabande, a calm and slow dance.
Tang works on legatos, the tempo, and bowing. Gastinel advises her to put more weight on last notes and to remember to breathe through the performance of the piece.
Maintaining the right tempo for a sarabande.
Applying weight on certain notes.
Playing without tension in the mind and body.
Breathing with the strings.
Immersing yourself in the music.
Bach’s six cello suites, composed during his time as Kapellmeister in Cöthen between 1717-23, are some of the greatest and most challenging works for solo cello ever written. Like its counterparts, the third suite remains in a single key throughout six dance movements. Because it is in the key of C major, it has a naturally cheerful quality and resonance, and open strings and double stops are frequently incorporated. Bach strategically hints at the underlying harmonies with the use of pedal notes and broken chords. The prelude is in A-B-A-C form, alternating between scalar and chordal passages. The allemande in this suite is unique because it deviates from standard Baroque practice by using three sixteenth notes as an upbeat instead of one. Somehow, the courante maintains an elegance throughout extended virtuosic passages. The emotional core of the piece lies in the sarabande, which is both soulful and dignified. The first bourrée is spirited yet simple, while the second is slightly slower and more lyrical. Full of leaps, the lively final gigue brings the suite to an animated conclusion.
Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this cello masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Anne Gastinel’s feedback and comments.
At the age of 18 she won the first prize in the Scheveningen competition.
Anne Gastinel won numerous prizes in major international competitions (Scheveningen, Prague, Rostropovitch) and began to appear all over Europe, making a lasting impact on the general public in the 1990 Eurovision Competition.
Unanimously recognized as an ambassador of the French cello school, she was selected to play for the term of one year: the legendary Matteo Gofriller cello that once belonged to Pablo Casals. In 2006, Anne Gastinel was awarded the Victoire de la Musique in the category of ‘Soloist of the Year’ and ‘Best Recording’.
Her career now takes her to perform in the leading venues all over Europe, as well as Japan, China, South Africa, Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, and the United States. She has appeared with great masters such as Yehudi Menuhin, Mstislav Rostropovich, and Kurt Sanderling. As a soloist, she regularly performs with the Orchestre National de France, Orchestre National de Lyon, Hr-Sinfonieorchester (Frankfurt), Orchestre Philharmonique Royal de Liège, Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine, Orchestre Symphonique de Bretagne, among others.
Furthermore, as a chamber musician, she plays with Claire Désert, with whom she has recorded many albums (Poulenc, Franck, Schubert, Schumann…), with the Quatuor Hermès, Nicholas Angelich, Andreas Ottensamer, David Grimal and Philippe Cassard; Xavier Philipps and many other French cellists. For nearly 15 years, her recordings have received the highest distinctions. Her recording (Naïve) dedicated to Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Nicholas Angelich, Gil Shaham, Paavo Jarvi and the Hr-Sinfonieorchester received the ‘Choc’ of Classica magazine. Since then, she has continued to explore the extensive cello repertoire with her accomplices.
She has been teaching at the CNSMD of Lyon since 2003.
Johann Sebastian Bach is undoubtedly one of the most important figures in music history. His incredible creative power, technical mastery, and intellect have made a lasting impression not only on classical music but also on many different modern music genres we know today.
Born in 1685 in Eisenach, Germany, Bach was a member of a very well-known family of musicians. At 18-years-old, he began working in Arnstadt where he accompanied hymns at church. His professional career as a musician would follow in Weimar, where he resided from 1708 to 1717. Here, Bach would deepen his theoretical study of composition and write most of his organ works. Moreover, he composed preludes and fugues that would be part of his collection The Well-Tempered Clavier. After building a considerable reputation in Weimar, Bach moved to Köthen to take a new role as Chapel Master. Writing less religious songs and putting more of a focus on chamber music, his compositions from this time would bring Baroque instrumental music to its pinnacle.
From 1723 until his death in 1750, Bach worked in Leipzig. First, as Thomaskantor at the Thomasschule and later as a private tutor and director of the Collegium Musicum. During this time, Bach worked on creating a repertoire of cantatas for church and revised many of his previous compositions. From 1726 onward, his keyboard works were published. His death in 1750 came to mark the end of the Baroque period and the beginning of Classicism. For many years after his passing, Johann Sebastian Bach’s works were buried with him until they resurfaced many years later and celebrated for their musical ingenuity.