Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, Prelude

Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, Prelude

Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor, Prelude

Johann Sebastian Bach

Isabel Charisius's masterclass

Produced by the Saline royale Academy English Music sheet annotated by  Isabel Charisius  is available 38 min Viola

In this session, Isabel Charisius and Felicitas Bründler work on intonation, bowing, and more.

Produced by the Saline royale Academy

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The masterclass

About this masterclass 

In this masterclass, Professor Isabel Charisius guides student Felicitas Bründler in playing with more flow in the prelude from Bach’s Suite No. 2. She discusses the contrasting characters in the music; although there is a darker quality to this music, it also must have lightness to contrast. With this, she shows how this can be achieved through balance and contrast between the bass line and the melody.

Moreover, Charisius also demonstrates to Bründler the importance of  relaxing her wrist and bow stroke, so she can play with a lighter and cleaner technique. They work extensively on intonation, so the intervals always relate perfectly to the underlying harmony.

Finally, she encourages the student to have more of a sense of the overarching architecture of the piece and find ways to convey it to the audience. 

What we learn in this masterclass

  1. Finding perfect intonation in chords and intervals. 

  2. Relaxing in the body to ease technically difficult parts of the piece.

  3. Making smooth and even string crossings.

  4. Balancing and contrasting between the bass and treble.

  5. Understanding and portraying the architecture of the piece. 

Cello Suite No. 2 in D Minor by Johann Sebastian Bach

Johann Sebastian Bach composed the six suites for solo cello during his time, serving as Kapellmeister in Cöthen between 1717-23. They are known as some of the finest and most difficult works ever written for the instrument, presenting both technical and interpretative challenges to the performer. Like its counterparts, the second suite contains six Baroque dance movements: a prelude, allemande, courante, sarabande, two minuets, and a gigue. The key of D minor provides the piece with a darker character than some other suites.

The opening prelude opens with a clear D minor triad, setting the mood, before embarking on long passages of sixteenth notes emphasizing the second beat. The movement ends with a section that highlights the low register of the cello, leading into emphatic final chords. Other features of this suite include the complex double stops of the Allemande, the intensely rapid Courante, and the haunting beauty of the Sarabande

  • Date:18 February 2021
  • Producer: Produced by the Saline royale Academy
  • Duration:38 min
  • Spoken language:English

Sheet music

Aim for excellence! You can improve your skills with expert advice. Download the annotated sheet music of this viola masterclass. Please note that this piece has been annotated in accordance to Isabel Charisius’s feedback and comments.

Sheet music cello suite no. 2 in d minor, prelude

Isabel Charisius

Isabel Charisius

The prize winners were selected by a jury comprising (Alban Berg Quartet), 1983 to mark the 50th anniversary of Banff Centre.

Isabel Charisius is one of the finest violists and chamber musicians of her generation. As a member of the legendary Alban Berg Quartet, and a regular soloist with leading orchestras, Charisius has appeared regularly at the most prestigious venues in Europe, the Americas, and Asia.

She enjoys working in projects with distinguished string quartets, various ensembles and many renowned soloists in international venues. She is frequently invited as a jury member to prestigious international competitions.

For many years, Charisius has been dedicated to developing the journeys of new generations of musicians. She is an internationally recognized teacher of viola and chamber music. Her prolific teaching activity at the Universities of Cologne and Lucerne as well as a wide range of masterclasses at some of the most prestigious institutions, has produced a large community of alumni. Her students can be found among the winners of international competitions, and many of them are members of the world’s finest ensembles and orchestras.

Isabel Charisius plays the extraordinary viola «ABQ» by Laurentius Storioni (1780).


Johann Sebastian Bach

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.

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