Cello Suite no. 2 in D minor

Cello Suite no. 2 in D minor

BWV 1008 performed by Steuart Pincombe
Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam

  • Menu
  • 1. Prelude
  • 2. Allemande
  • 3. Courante
  • 4. Sarabande
  • 5. Menuet I & II
  • 6. Gigue

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Always searching

The Courante is as quick as lightning

Cello Suite no. 2 in D minor is one of the favourite pieces of cellist Steuart Pincombe. So he was delighted when we asked him to record this suite in the Main Hall of the Concertgebouw, in Amsterdam. The searching character of the piece suits Pincombe’s outlook. In playing music, he always tries to create something new, rather than recreating the same thing, as he explains in his interview.

Six Cello Suites, BWV 1007-1012
The Six Cello Suites by Johann Sebastian Bach belong to the Old Testament of cello literature. Every cellist who looks at the music immediately feels how naturally the notes are draped around the strings of the instrument. Yet there are many questions and discussions about these Suites a Violoncello Solo senza Basso. Did Bach really write the music for cello, or at least for cello alone? And when did he write it? At the court at Köthen or earlier?
The suites follow a path from simplicity to increasing virtuosity. If you were to divide the six cello suites into two equal sets, then Suites no. 2 and no. 5 each form a solemn central section in minor. Although it is not technically demanding, Bach’s Suite no. 2 evokes a world filled with shadowy rooms and melancholy dance evenings, which is far removed from the sunny landscapes of Suite no. 1.

Suite no. 2
The Prelude of Suite no. 2 opens with a triad signal of three ascending notes, which plainly states the key of D minor. Expectations for what directly follows are also set straight away. Despite the apparently rippling movement of the semiquavers, Bach works almost imperceptibly towards a climax around the golden section, followed by a short and dramatic silence. An epilogue is followed by some long final chords, which the cellist can choose to play as an arpeggio or as a double stop. Whereas the progress of the Allemande seems to be impeded by tough double stops, the Courante is as quick as lightning, as if the devil is at your heels. Steuart Pincombe likes to play the piece very fast, as a counterpart to the elegant and stately Sarabande, which offers the performer a moment of elegance, with pensive trills and sighs to indicate continual cares. The Menuet II brings brief respite, and the closing Gigue that could have been composed in a flowing 12/8 time is instead written in a more rigid 3/8, as if Bach is trying to keep the heroic big leaps in check. The cellist continually breaks free with diabolic little dances, ending on a lively high D.

Cello Suite no. 2 in D minor
chamber music
Six cello suites
between 1717 and 1723

With support from


Extra videos

Cellist Steuart Pincombe

“The Sarabande has a reverence in it, it's almost a memory of something beautiful.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    19 October 2018
  • Recording date
    12 February 2018
  • Location
    Het Concertgebouw, Amsterdam
  • Cellist
    Steuart Pincombe
  • Cello
  • Director and editor
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Bastiaan Kuijt
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Danny Noordanus, Nina Badoux
  • Lights
    Zen Bloot, Sander Idema
  • Grip
    Auke Verhoeff
  • Data handling and camera-assistant
    Eline Eestermans
  • Interview
    Onno van Ameijde, Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • With support from

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