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Recent re-evaluations of the Baroque cello and what they might mean for performing the music of J. S. Bach
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Recent re-evaluations of the Baroque cello and what they might mean for performing the music of J. S. Bach

Author: Marc Vanscheeuwijck
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication:Early Music, v38 n2 (20100501): 181-192
Other Databases: WorldCatWorldCatWorldCat
Summary:
In the first part of the article I question the standardized approach modern 'Baroque' cellists have shown towards the instrument and its playing technique through a reevaluation of documentary, iconographical and musical sources of the 17th and 18th centuries. Results demonstrate that before the 1730s not only were substantial numbers of types and sizes of instruments available to players throughout Europe, but  Read more...
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Document Type: Article
All Authors / Contributors: Marc Vanscheeuwijck
ISSN:0306-1078
Language Note: English
Unique Identifier: 6733292092
Awards:

Abstract:

In the first part of the article I question the standardized approach modern 'Baroque' cellists have shown towards the instrument and its playing technique through a reevaluation of documentary, iconographical and musical sources of the 17th and 18th centuries. Results demonstrate that before the 1730s not only were substantial numbers of types and sizes of instruments available to players throughout Europe, but also a great variety of tunings, playing positions and bowing techniques. It is only later in the 18th century, and particularly under the influence of French cello pedagogues starting with Michel Corrette (1741), that we see an increasing standardization in the use of instruments, in left-hand and in bowing techniques. In applying these findings to the music of Bach, the second part of the article focuses on the cantatas with obbligato violoncello and violoncello piccolo, and on the six suites for violoncello solo. The key questions are the following: first, is there a relevant organological difference between the instruments Bach used for performance of these compositions? Second, what precisely was Bach's violoncello, and how does the 'piccolo' modifier relate to it? Finally, is the specific range of, and the use of, particular clefs in a composition a sufficient indicator for one or the other instrument when no specifications appear in the score?

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