There comes a time in a cellist’s life when they feel the primal call, the irresistible need to do something with Bach’s Suites. For me, that time is now!
This edition is the first part of yet another gargantuan project, which I hope will develop into something useful for all cellists around me.
We begin today with Alfredo Piatti’s (1822—1901) version of the First Suite, BWV 1007, in G major, by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685—1750) for cello and piano. There exist quite a few versions of Bach’s Suites for cello and piano, and it is not the purpose of this edition to look at all of them, but Piatti’s version stood out to me for not being just a mere harmonisation. Looking at the Prélude alone one may think otherwise, but if one looks at the melody, it’s made of broken chords throughout, leaving very little room to invention. The other movements, though, are on another level.
The cello part of this arrangement has also been edited by Piatti and it is the only source we have that may lead us to understand how he played it. There are few fingerings overall, while bowing suggestions are abundant.
The first thing to do was to ascertain what source Piatti used. By the way he created this version, all five main sources were already available, and possibly also some other editions (Dotzauer’s one, for example). By creating a synoptic score of the first suite I could compare Piatti’s cello line with all five sources. Most of his choices come from source A (Anna Magdalena Bach’s (1701—1760) manuscript) and from source B (Johann Peter Kellner’s (1705—1772) manuscript). There are a few marking coming from the other three sources but I believe this was more Piatti’s doing than sources C-D-E. There are even a few original additions by Piatti, one of which even alters a note in a way that is not found in any other source.
The most notable changes, which I have decided to retain in this edition, are the use of the Italian language for the titles of each dance, and the usage of the G minor key signature in the Minuetto II. With the exception of the Prélude, which is on three pages, all the Suite is playable without page-turns, and so is the cello part. All relevant changes are listed In the Critical Notes.
Michele Galvagno, Artistic Score Engraving
Saluzzo — September 23, 2022.
Score and parts available here: https://artisticscoreng.gumroad.com/l/wfhqkf
Promotional video: https://youtu.be/hs8zejgC4yk
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In source A, all movements end with a fermata on the last barline. In Piatti’s version, only the Allemande has a fermata between the last note and the barline, while the Minuetto I has a fermata on the last note.
- Title in Italian language: “Preludio”
- b 16 cello: no natural in MS, added in brackets since the piano part shows it
- b 22 cello:
- based on source B
- in the manuscript, on beat 3, note 1, there is an up-bow symbol under the staff. It has been omitted in the final version of this edition
- b 27 cello: based on source A or B1
- Title in Italian language: “Allemanda”
- bb 4-6 cello: based on source A
- b 11 cello: Piatti adds a TR on note 1, which is not present in any source
- b 19 cello: no slur between appoggiatura and C
- b 20 cello: based on sources C-D-E
- b 23 cello: based on source A
- bb 29, 31 cello: based on source A or B
- Title in Italian language: “Corrente”
- bb 2, 6-7, 10, 13 cello: based on source A
- bb 18, 42 cello: lengthens the last note by an eight note
- b 20 cello: Piatti slurs notes 4-8, most probably he meant 4-9
- b 26 cello: removes tie between notes 1-2
- b 30 cello: changes note 7 to F natural
- b 38 cello: based on sources B-C-D-E
- Title in Italian language: “Sarabanda”
- b 4 cello: based on B
- Title in Italian language: “Minuetto I°”
- b 22 cello: based on source A or B
- Title in Italian language: “Minuetto II°”
- Key signature changed to G minor (2 flats). The original is in G dorian (1 flat)
- bb 3, 7 cello: based on source B or D
- bb 5-6 piano: these two bars feature heavy cancelling and pencil markings. Impossible to see what was below the top level
- b 21 cello: adds SF
- b 24: adds text “Minuetto 1° Da capo”
- Title in Italian language: “Giga”
- b 26 cello: adds “cresc.” hairpin
- b 34 cello: no fermata on last note; last note changed to G2-B3-G4 chord
- When not differing from it, every source is equal to source A. In this case, sources C, D, and E showed something different than A & B. ↩