“I was made to work. If you are equally industrious, you will be equally successful.”
- Johann Sebastian Bach
I’ve been playing some Bach, old favourites from his collection of Suites for Unaccompanied Cello. A reader might wonder what the heck a violist is doing playing a cello suite, but as any violist will tell you, JS Bach had the viola in mind all along when he was writing them, even though back in the early eighteenth century writing for solo viola Just Wasn’t Done.
Thankfully for the likes of me, two hundred-odd years after the writing of theSuites, the viola came into bloom as a solo instrument. In the early part of the twentieth century, violists began transcribing older works and commissioning new ones, putting that rich, alto sound to good use. Often when people ask me which instrument I play, their faces soften at the mention of the viola as they recall for themselves the fullness of its sound. (Either that or they’re thinking of the latest viola joke, but that’s another story.)
All of which is to say, it’s always a thrill to play Bach, an old friend with whom I’ve been well acquainted for many years. I especially enjoy tinkering with subtleties of phrase and sonority. Much as I’ve been doing with the Big Edit.