That famous cello prelude, deconstructed

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Shared January 30, 2020

Bach's G major prelude has captivated cellists and music lovers for years. Cellist Alisa Weilerstein deconstructs it.

Bach's six cello suites are considered a rite of passage for cellists. They're masterpieces of classical music, and the prelude in G major — the first movement of the suites — is perhaps the best example of Bach's power as a composer. In it, he's able to achieve rich and complex harmonic movements with just a four-stringed instrument, while using the very basic tenets of music composition. Those basic tenets are what Alisa Weilerstein, a renowned cellist and McArthur fellow, helps us understand.

A previous version of this video mislabeled a C sharp as a C natural. We also removed a simplified chord visual that mislabeled a C natural as a C sharp.

Alisa's discography: https://alisaweilerstein.com/discogra...

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Further reading:
https://costanzabach.stanford.edu/com...
https://theconversation.com/decoding-...
http://songexploder.net/yo-yo-ma

The score used in the video was from Bärenreiter:
https://www.baerenreiter.com/en/

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CKELSEY_CELLO

They forgot to mention! She's a critically acclaimed, multiple award winning; world class soloist and recording artist who plays nearly 200 concerts a year and has been a traveling soloist since the age of 13. She also commissions and premiers more new and contemporary works with the worlds greatest orchestras than most solo recitals cellist will play in a year.

4 weeks ago (edited) | [YT] | 6,880

Cory RS

I love this single. Can't wait for Bach to drop his album.

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 1,999

Nathaniel

Vox: All this on just 4 strings

Paganini: Am I a joke to you?

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 1,130

Rahmy Salman

“They must be played yet we feel like we can’t really ever do them justice.”
That’s love.

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 747

Amit Moryossef

"just 4 strings" twoset are going to love this

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 7,026

gidi

"it's composed for an instrument that has just four strings"
dafuq

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 1,423

Charlie

You know she's serious when she pronounces 'Bach' like she's German.

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 649

Toffue

"How simple it is" "just two pages" "just four strings" bruh what about phrasing and dynamics and articulations and ornamentations and expression and the skills you need to play the instrument in the first place?

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 779

SweetasSugar42

Everyone is losing their minds over "just four strings" but like...I read that as the cello is an incredibly impressive instrument BECAUSE it can do so much with four strings!? It’s complicated, and skilled, and so so beautiful with only four strings.

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 464

Alfredo González

Last sentence couldn't be more true: "We cellists, we always feel sort of unworthy of it. The music is so pure, so sublime, so emotional, so intellectual. They must be played, and yet we feel like we can't really ever do them justice".

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 362

Naomi Rehman

RIP to anyone who doesn't know music theory

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 326

Sebastian Morales

Fun fact: The Bach Cello Suites were completely unknown until Pablo Casals, a Spanish master cellist, found them when he was young in the corner of a music shop. He took them home and ended up making them famous, to the point that it is now the most recognized cello piece in the world!

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 190

John Thompson

8:28 my brain has never been happier with any other resolution

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 353

William Arthur George Deacon

I thoroughly enjoyed how passionate and informative the cellist was.

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 3,664

Michael Zheng

Roses are red
Vexation is too long
Every musician should know,
That this is a piece and not a song

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 104

Morgan McGuire

anyone else begin to cry when she broke out of that mayhem

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 96

thoyo

8:53 Depicting chromaticism via incremental increases in spectral frequency.. well played Vox, well played

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 371

Sarah J

“It’s composed for an instrument that has only four strings!” Me: DONT YOU FREAKING DARE UNDERESTIMATE THE STRINGED INSTRUMENTS!!!

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 237

plutoburn

It's so famous I know what the song is before I click the video.

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 2,880

Sam Titmuss

“and we’re just so happy about it that we have to sort of keep wandering around it” what a beautiful way to describe the feeling of a key change ❤️

4 weeks ago | [YT] | 95