BY MARIANNE DUMAS
A 4 years research and recording project about the origins, technique of the violoncello and the Bach Cello Suites.
"Some move the bow as it is customary on the viola da gamba, that is, instead of a down-stroke from left to right for the principal notes, they make an up-stroke from right to left, beginning from the tip of the bow."
J. J. Quantz about cellists, Berlin, 1752
A NEW VISION
In October 2014, because of the similarity between the bass viol and the cello, I tried to inverse the bowing technique of the violoncello in the Bach Cello Suites. During this experiment, I instantaneously felt a better response from the instrument and by consequence, more resonance.
This experience led me to start a project including: a research about the origins, the setup, and the bowing technique of the violoncello, the making of a new Urtext edition, and the recording of this edition on the most authentic set-up.
The sound was my guide. My goal was to reach a connection between the vibration of the violoncello and the harmony in order to let Bach's music make its magic. » MD
FROM A PERSONNAL INVESTIGATION TO A LONG PROJECT ABOUT REVERSING THE BOW STROKES
Marianne began her researchs in 2009. She first investigated the technique, posture and resonance of the instrument always using the Bach Cello Suites as a reference and in 2014, as she was still looking for more answers, Marianne moved to Berlin and started to work full time on her project. Once in Berlin, she first worked with makers of baroque instruments, had encounters with baroque specialists, made her research in libraries including the research institut for musicology of Berlin.
Following this process, she wrote a publication about the violoncello, its origin, technique, set -up and evolution. She also made a new edition of the Bach Cello Suites and recorded it with the instruments of the project (full baroque set up).
. PROJECT TIMELINE
Arrived in Berlin
Started the search of the bow for the Suites
The Baroque Cello of the project
Made by Daniel König in Leipzig
What if a dow stroke was an up bow in cello playing?
Set of strings made by Pure Cordes, Potsdam
Understanding how to write slurs...
Making the new urtext edition
October 2014-December 2015
Mr. Reiners was of a precious help. I asked him for a model of bow that was used in Germany when Bach composed the Suites. A clip in frog bow.
Kept exploring the set-up possibilities in Leipzig
With Daniel König, the maker of the cello
Meeting with Ton Koopman
A very helpful meeting where we talked about phrasing with Maestro Koopman, I also explained my technique to him and received his encouragements
RECORDED THE 6 SUITES
5 days at the B#Sharp Studio in Berlin
Meeting with Yo-Yo Ma
A Very nice meeting with Yo-Yo Ma, where he gave me his support
Received Ton Koopman's comments about the recording
"I listened to the 6 Bach suites with pleasure. Very well done, I liked very much the resonance, intonation and the way of playing. Very convincing. A very good work and great success technically."
The New Edition
Entered my Urtext edition of the Suites in the computer (the one of the recording)
Signed with URANIA RECORDS
"Some move the bow as is customary on the viola da gamba, that is, instead of a down-stroke from left to right for the principal notes, they make an up-stroke from right to left, beginning from the tip of the bow."
J. J. Quantz about cellists, Berlin, 1752
How did you make this discovery?
(...) I then explored this idea and began playing the prelude of the First Suite on an up bow, which had seemd to me to be completely irrational. This experiment convinced me, I felt the vibration of the violoncello ad my arm followed the order of the strings in the arpeggios. The idea of reversing the bowing technique seemed to me illogical for a cellist but the more I experienced it, the more I became convinced I had keep exploring this topic.
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A NEW URTEXT EDITION
.NEW urtext edition of the Bach Cello Suites
When she started her research, Marianne's aim was not only to understand the slurs of the manuscripts but to understand the mechanic of the sound of the instrument.
When she noticed that the baroque cello gained a lot of resonance by reversing the bowing technique, Marianne started looking at the score as if it was composed to use similar bow strokes to the viola da gamba. She then reanalyzed the 4 manuscript copies of Suites and made a new urtext edition.
The new edition can be played with "regular" technique, with strong bow on the down; or with the strong bow on the up bow (like on the gamba).
The edition should be available in 2019-20