Celebrating 25 Years of Excellence

Bach: Cello Suites Nos. 1-6 & Viola da Gamba Sonatas (Arr. for Cello & Harpsichord)


Catalogue No: SOMMCD 090-2
Release Date: 2009-09-01
Number of Discs: 2
EAN/UPC: 748871309029
Liner Notes

This new release brings you a well-filled 3-CD set for the price of two. The first two discs of this set feature a brand new recording of Bach’s Cello Suites with the well-loved Russian cellist Karine Georgian. Karine considers this some of the most moving music ever written.

She confesses that she has lived with the Suites and has played them in concert for many years and has always been in awe of their sublime beauty. It becomes evident from the very beginning of Suite no. 1 that Georgian brings to her playing a very special insight and deep understanding of these cello masterpieces.

Christopher Morley’s comprehensive booklet notes also contain a special interview of Karine in which she expresses her views on the style of playing of Bach’s music and specifically that of the Cello Suites.

Born into a family of musicians in Moscow, Karine Georgian studied at the Moscow Conservatoire under Rostropovich. After taking the First Prize and Gold medal at the Third Tchaikovsky International Competition, she launched an international career that has spanned all the countries of the former Soviet Union, Eastern and Western Europe, the Far East and the United States, debuting with the Chicago Symphony in the American premiere of Khachaturian’s Cello Rhapsody conducted by the composer. Her repertoire encompasses more than forty concertos and a huge range of instrumental and chamber music. She has been associated with many composers of our day, such as Alfred Schnittke, Howard Skempton, Krzysztof Penderecki, Elena Firsova, Sofia Gubaidulina, Dmitri Smirnov, Alexander Raskatov and Alexander Goehr, who have worked with her and also  written works for her. In 1994 she made her first visit to Australia to give the Australian premiere of Britten’s Cello Symphony.

Karine Georgian has lived in London since 1980 and two years later was appointed Professor of Cello at the Musikhochschule in Detmold in Germany. She now teaches at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester and gives recitals and masterclasses in the UK and worldwide, notably at Dartington international Summer School where she has appeared annually for more than twenty years. Her CD for SOMM of sonatas by Britten and Shostakovich(SOMMCD 067)  with pianist Jeremy Young, together with Britten’s third Suite for Solo Cello, was released to critical acclaim in 2007.

The third disc of this special 3-CD set contains Bach’s 3 Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord BWV 1027–9. Although there is no original source which shows all three sonatas belonging together as a cycle, their characteristic textures and similar compositional style  suggest that they somehow belong with one another. Their dating is problematic. Some authorities place them as Cöthen works, others as having been written much later in Leipzig and may have been intended for the viola da gamba virtuoso Carl Friedrich Abel, who had probably studied with Bach himself. The first two sonatas are written in the four-movement form,  the second sonata giving the harpsichord a long extended episode in the last movement with the gamba merely accompanying.The most striking of these is the third sonata, which is made up of three movements rather than four. It contains bold gestures with an astonishing variety of note values and motives, while the finale provides the most virtuosic display, interspersed with a lyrical episode.

The Sonata in G Minor is the third and last of the gamba sonatas and stems from the tradition of the Italian concerto in three movements. Bach makes the two instruments equal partners in this work, although it is essentially three-part writing throughout: The highly energised and rhythmic first movement features frequent dialogue between the two instruments.The lyrical, expressive slow movement is like a vocal duet, with singing melodies in both instruments.Bach’s ingenious contrapuntal writing is especially evident in the vigorous and energetic last movement in fugal style.

Karine Georgian’s inspiring and very impressive partner in this recording of the Gamba Sonatas is harpsichordist Gary Cooper. He originally studied at Chetham’s School of Music and at New College, Oxford. He is now established as one of the foremost ambassadors of the harpsichord and fortepiano – in particular, as an interpreter of Bach’s and Mozart’s keyboard music – and as a director of period performances in concert and opera.

He performs across Europe, North America and Asia, and has made countless recordings, including an award-winning CD of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier. In addition to appearances  with Karine Georgian, Gary has a duo partnership with baroque violinist Rachel Podger which has taken them worldwide. Their recordings have won multiple Diapason d’Or and Gramophone Editor’s Choices.

Gary currently teaches harpsichord and fortepiano at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Birmingham Conservatoire and at York University, and is visiting professor at the Royal College of Music.

“something of a genius” (The Times)

“music-making rarely comes as impressive as this” (the Sunday Times)

On This Recording

  1. Cello Suite No. 1: I. Prelude
  2. Cello Suite No. 1: II. Allemande
  3. Cello Suite No. 1: III. Courante
  4. Cello Suite No. 1: IV. Sarabande
  5. Cello Suite No. 1: V. Menuet I-II
  6. Cello Suite No. 1: VI. Gigue
  7. Cello Suite No. 2: I. Prelude
  8. Cello Suite No. 2: II. Allemande
  9. Cello Suite No. 2: III. Courante
  10. Cello Suite No. 2: IV. Sarabande
  11. Cello Suite No. 2: V. Menuet I-II
  12. Cello Suite No. 2: VI. Gigue
  13. Cello Suite No. 6: I. Prelude
  14. Cello Suite No. 6: II. Allemande
  15. Cello Suite No. 6: III. Courante
  16. Cello Suite No. 6: IV. Sarabande
  17. Cello Suite No. 3: I. Prelude
  18. Cello Suite No. 3: II. Allemande
  19. Cello Suite No. 3: III. Courante
  20. Cello Suite No. 3: IV. Sarabande
  21. Cello Suite No. 3: V. Bourree I-II
  22. Cello Suite No. 3: VI. Gigue
  23. Cello Suite No. 4: I. Prelude
  24. Cello Suite No. 4: II. Allemande
  25. Cello Suite No. 4: III. Courante
  26. Cello Suite No. 4: IV. Sarabande
  27. Cello Suite No. 4: V. Bourree I-II
  28. Cello Suite No. 4: VI. Gigue
  29. Cello Suite No. 5: I. Prelude
  30. Cello Suite No. 5: II. Allemande
  31. Cello Suite No. 5: III. Courante
  32. Cello Suite No. 5: IV. Sarabande
  33. Cello Suite No. 5: V. Gavotte I-II
  34. Cello Suite No. 5: VI. Gigue
  35. Cello Suite No. 6: V. Gavotte I-II
  36. Cello Suite No. 6: VI. Gigue
  37. Viola da Gamba Sonata: I. Adagio
  38. Viola da Gamba Sonata: II. Allegro
  39. Viola da Gamba Sonata: III. Andante
  40. Viola da Gamba Sonata: IV. Allegro moderato
  41. : I. Adagio
  42. : II. Allegro
  43. : III. Andante
  44. : IV. Allegro
  45. Viola da Gamba Sonata: I. Vivace
  46. Viola da Gamba Sonata: II. Adagio
  47. Viola da Gamba Sonata: III. Allegro