Bach Cello Suite no. 6 in D major, BWV 1012

The Six suites for cello by Johann Sebastian Bach are some of the most frequently performed and recognizable solo compositions ever written for cello. Most likely composed during the period 1717–1723, they have been transcribed for numerous instruments. It is believed that the sixth suite was composed specifically for a five-stringed violoncello piccolo, an instrument roughly the size of a 7/8 normal cello that has a fifth upper string tuned to E, a perfect fifth above the otherwise top string. However, some say there is no substantial evidence to support this claim: whilst three of the sources inform the player that it is written for an instrument à cinq cordes, only Anna Magdalena Bach's manuscript indicates the tunings of the strings, and the other sources do not mention any intended instrument at all. It is also probable that Bach didn't have a particular instrument in mind, as the specifics of instruments as the time were highly variable. Modern cellists wishing to play the piece on a modern four-string cello encounter difficulties as they are forced to use very high positions to reach many of the notes. This suite is written in much more free form than the others, containing more virtuosic passages. It is also the only one of the suites that is partly notated in the Tenor clef.


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Cello Suite no. 6 in D, BWV 1012