J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Suites for Violoncello transcribed for Guitar

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Andreas Von Wangenheim
Individual Works:Suite in A major (cello: C major) BWV 1009
Suite in D major (cello: G major) BWV 1007
Suite in B Major (cello: Eb major) BWV 1010
Suite in A minor (cello: D minor) BWV 1008
Suite in D major (cello: D Major) BWV 1012
Suite in A minor (cello: C minor) BWV 1011
Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Arte Nova
Catalog Number:74321 67522 2
Year Released/Recorded:1999
Total Playing Time:128:12
Comments:Andrew Ward said:

AFAIK, the only complete recording of all six cello suites transcribed for guitar. At least, the only one I've been able to find. Anybody know any different?

This recording is good for those of us teaching ourselves to play Bach on the guitar, as the transposed keys are the standard ones used by guitarists. Get the CD, surf to John Weed's excellent Classical Guitar Tabs site, get the tab and away you go. It makes it far easier for me than using Pablo Casals as a reference; whilst I love his performances the fact that he plays 5 of the 6 suites in a different key from me taxes my rudimentary musical skills to the limit.

Plus points are that the recording is clear (DDD), the set is great value (I paid the equivalent of US$10 for a double CD here in Amsterdam) and the playing is never less than competent. The readings are respectful, with a little tasteful embellishment here and there. I particularly liked the swing added to the second Gavotte of the 5th Suite.

Minus points are that whilst the recording is good, the guitar sound is not. The flat, non-resonant sound implies the use of an electric-classical guitar. The suites have been (IMHO) needlessly and arbitrarily re-sequenced on the discs. There is occasional use of rubato, which jars when one is used to Casals' and Segovia's strict-time performances. The sleeve notes, written by the performer, make it appear as if he was the first guitarist to transcribe Bach's cello music, which he is not. And, whilst I concede that the comparison is brutally unfair, Segovia's few recordings of pieces from these suites remain, for me, the definitive versions.

But it's complete, it's cheap, and it sounds good in the car. Notwithstanding the niggles, it's a must for neophyte guitarists who want to play Bach. Recommended.

Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Andrew Ward
Date First Submitted:11/18/2000