Cello Suite no. 3 in C major

Cello Suite no. 3 in C major

BWV 1009 performed by Valentijn Jeukendrup, Sofia Boisvert, Thijmen Tempelaars, Mudrė Buckutė, Arda Naci en Joshua Hassler-Forest
Doopsgezinde Kerk, Haarlem

  • Menu
  • 1. Prelude
  • 2. Allemande
  • 3. Courante
  • 4. Sarabande
  • 5. Bourrée
  • 6. 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?

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 Bourree, with a slightly oriental-sounding Bourree II in C minor. And the closing Gigue raises the roof, of course, with the cellist alternating big leaps with short sprints.

Young talent
Once every two or three years, the Netherlands Bach Society organises a talent development project for gifted young musicians under the age of 18, in collaboration with specialised partners. The projects, which focus on the performance practice of Bach’s music, allows us to bring talented youngsters into contact with historical performance practice and give them deeper insight into Bach’s music. In this project, we worked with cellists and baroque cellists of the future. Six very talented Dutch youngsters under the age of eighteen were selected from auditions to take three masterclasses about the baroque cello, playing continuo and Bach’s Cello Suites, given by Lucia Swarts. Each cellist rehearsed their own movement from Suite No. 3, which they then recorded for All of Bach. The project was set up in collaboration with the Cello Biënnale Amsterdam and received support from the Dutch Musical Instruments Foundation. Especially for the project, the foundation provided baroque cellos and bows, so that the cellists could explore new possibilities on these instruments, under the guidance of Lucia Swarts.

Six Cello Suites
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.

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

Extra videos

Masterclass Lucia Swarts for young cello talents

“An introduction to the baroque cello”

Vocal texts




  • Release date
    26 October 2022
  • Recording date
    23 April 2022
  • Location
    Haarlem Baptist Church
  • Cello
    Valentijn Jeukendrup, Sofia Boisvert, Thijmen Tempelaars, Mudrė Buckutė, Arda Naci en Joshua Hassler-Forest
  • Director
    Onno van Ameijde
  • Music recording
    Guido Tichelman, Pim van der Lee
  • Music edit and mix
    Guido Tichelman
  • Camera
    Rieks Soepenberg
  • Camera and lights assistent
    Abba Miltenburg
  • Assistant music recording
    Marloes Biermans
  • Producer
    Marieke de Blaay
  • Acknowledgement
    Het Nationaal Muziekinstrumenten Fonds

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.

Help us to complete All of Bach

There are still many recordings to be made before the whole of Bach’s oeuvre is online. And we can’t complete the task without the financial support of our patrons. Please help us to complete the musical heritage of Bach, by supporting us with a donation!