J.S. Bach wrote his cello suites between 1717 and 1723 – no-one really knows exactly. I’m playing the second one at the moment, for a concert of spoken word and cello. A dear friend of mine is reading from her new book, and I’m playing music that we think fits to her words. It’s not a hugely crazy concept – if you feed the sound of a cello through an oscilloscope (the instrument that measures soundwaves), the graph that is produced very like the human voice – so she’s speaking, and then the cello is speaking back. Same, but not-same, as my primary-school friends might say.
I read her excellent book, and found passages that I thought would match with movements from the second suite. And we are now fitting the whole concert together. (It’s really exciting, experiencing all the pieces falling into place!) This book is partly about being on a sheep farm through a drought year. And in one part of the book she describes a day of shearing – the energy, the gestures, the sounds. And you know something? It fits PERFECTLY with the gigue. And this amuses me as I play.
Bach solo cello and a Tassie shearing shed. Who’d have thunk it, ‘eh?