Cello Suite no. 3 in C major

Cello Suite no. 3 in C major

BWV 1009 performed by Reinier Wink
The Loft, Amsterdam

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

Behind the music

Extra videos
Extra videos

Cocky self-assurance

Does this suite symbolise young adulthood?

What a wonderfully optimistic opening. Like a playful puppy, the cellist races down a scale, from a high C to one lower, and then takes a diversion down another octave to the lowest open C string. After the dark Cello Suite no. 2, this Cello Suite no. 3 in C major is a continuation of the good-humoured tone of no. 1, although its mood is one of even cockier self-assurance. Cellist Colin Carr sees the six suites as “Bach’s children at various stages of life”. Could no. 3 symbolise an overconfident student? Cellist Reinier Wink, the student of Bach Society cellist Lucia Swarts, who recorded this cello suite for All of Bach, thinks that in any case the key of C major suits his own stage of life, saying “young people are simply more often cheerful”.

After the clear beginning of the Prelude, Bach starts playing a game with the listener, by apparently shifting the first beat of the bar, for example. There is a wonderful pedal point two-thirds of the way through the piece, where Bach places a whole series of modulations above a sustained dominant G.

The Allemande has a light-hearted character, and with its many strong accents is one of the least refined allemandes in the six suites. Like the Prelude, the jumpy Courante starts with a descending scale at full galop. Things calm down in the Sarabande, a slow court dance with the accent on the second beat. Like many sarabandes in the cello suites, this one in Cello Suite no. 3 is characterised by many double stops and broken chords over all the strings. It is in stark contrast to the apparent simplicity of the Bourrée, with a slightly oriental-sounding Bourrée II in C minor. And the closing Gigue raises the roof, of course, with the cellist alternating big leaps with short sprints.

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 Cöthen or earlier? The suites follow a path from simplicity to increasing virtuosity.

Cello Suite no. 3 in C major
chamber music
Six cello suites
between 1717 and 1723

With support from


Extra videos

Cellist Reinier Wink

“Portrait of Reinier Wink, student of Netherlands Bach Society cellist Lucia Swarts.”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    20 April 2018
  • Recording date
    8 October 2017
  • Location
    The Loft, Amsterdam
  • Cellist
    Reinier Wink
  • Cello
    unknown, made in Austria
  • Directors
    Gijs Besseling, Leonard Besseling
  • Editor
    Leonard Besseling
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Danny Noordanus, Gijs Besseling
  • Lights
    Daan de Boer
  • Lighting assistant
    Denny Schoute
  • Camera assistant and data handling
    Eline Eestermans
  • Interview
    Leonard Besseling
  • Camera interview
    Gijs Besseling, Danny Noordanus
  • Sound interview
    Noah Pepper
  • Editor interview
    Gijs Besseling
  • Lights interview
    Danny Noordanus
  • Production
    Jessie Verbrugh
  • With support of
    ARANIDI, Ammodo

Cello Suite no. 3 in C major

Two recordings of this Cello Suite have been made for All of Bach. You can view both recordings here.

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