Norwegian Chamber Orchestra

Norwegian Chamber Orchestra
Norwegian Chamber Orchestra (Photo by Mona Ødegaard)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suite No.2 in D minor, BWV 1008 – Peter Schmidt

German-American cellist Peter Schmidt plays the Cello Suite No.2 in D minor, BWV 1008, by Johann Sebastian Bach. Recorded in May 14, 2014 in Granera (Barcelona).

The Suite in D minor is one of two minor-key suites among the six for solo cello. With this Suite, Bach seems to aspire to an almost Beethovenian mixture of tragedy and defiance, all within his usual framework of strict procedures. There are six movements: a Prelude, Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, double Minuet, and Gigue.

The Prelude reminds this listener of a great Bach organ toccata (and some observers, indeed, have speculated on links between Bach's organ improvisations and his string writing). Bach uses a simple arpeggio figure to build phrases of ever-increasing complexity, as in the parallel passage in the first suite. But here the minor-key arpeggio that sets the tone for the work is used to gradually build tension as it climbs through the cello's range in a series of rising waves. The movement builds to a high-pitched, tense climax, followed by an improviser's silence while the echoes die out. Finally we return to the low strings for a coda that sums up the movement in small, intimate terms.

Each of the movements that follow offers its own take on tragedy and defiance, but the moments that best characterize this suite include the unusual and dramatic double Minuet and the resigned Sarabande. Mstislav Rostropovich memorably described the latter movement as an essay in "white-hot solitude", and its stylized dirge and ringing open fifths recall the laments of the great masters of the French viol tradition. This suite, perhaps above all the others, compels the listener's attention through the contrast between the graceful and courtly language of the French dances that constitute the suite form and the dark, sinewy meat of Bach's own compositional thinking. At the end the Gigue wraps things up with angular rhythms and violent, unrelenting passions. But Bach isn't done with us yet; this movement prepares for the sunniness of the next suite in the set.

Source: James Liu (

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)

♪ Cello Suite No.2 in D minor, BWV 1008 (1717-1723)

i. Prelude [00:05]*
ii. Allemande [03:24]
iii. Courante [06:46]
iv. Sarabande [08:48]
v. Menuet I & II [13:40]
vi. Gigue [16:27]

Peter Schmidt, cello

Granera (Barcelona), May 14, 2014

(HD 720p)

* Start time of each track

German-American cellist Peter Schmidt, born in Saarbrücken in 1983, is invited to play as soloist and chamber musician throughout Europe, the United States, Colombia and Mexico. He is a regular guest at international festivals such as Podium Festival Esslingen, the Festival Mas y Mas in Barcelona, Músics en Residència Alella, Encuentro de Musica de Camara UNICACH and Paaxfest in Mexico. In 2013 he recorded a CD with the works for cello and piano by Pablo Casals with pianist Katia Michel for the label Klassic Cat. He is artistic director of the chamber music festival Pòdium Internacional Matadepera, which took place for the first time in 2014. Peter performs as soloist with orchestras such as the Neue Philharmonie Westfalen, the Budweis Philharmonic Orchestra, the Konstanz University Orchestra, the Munich International Orchestra and the A-Orchester der Bundeswehr.

At the age of five he began his musical studies, first with piano lessons and three years later with cello lessons. At the age of 16 he was accepted into the class of Markus Wagner in the Musikhochschule Nürnberg-Augsburg. In 2007 he finished his studies at the Musikhochschule Munich with Wen-Sinn Yang and in 2010 received a chamber music degree with special honors from the Musikhochschule Detmold, where he studied with members of the Auryn Quartet. In 2012 he was awarded a prestigious Konzertexamen degree with special honors from the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule in Düsseldorf, where he studied with Gregor Horsch, principal cellist of the Concertgebouw Orchestra Amsterdam. He has taken part in master classes with Claude Starck, Wolfgang Boettcher, Gustav Rivinius, Jens-Peter Maintz, Frans Helmersson, Eberhard Feltz, Menahem Pressler, Andras Schiff, Arnold Steinhardt and Ana Chumachenco among others.

Peter Schmidt combines his activities as a performer with those as a teacher. He was assistant teacher at the Master Classes for Chamber Music, Violin, Viola and Cello in Groznjan, Croatia in 2009. Since 2010 he has been invited on several occasions by the Universidad de Ciencias y Artes de Chiapas, Mexico to give master classes and concerts; in 2012 he conducted a master class for cello and chamber music at the Conservatori del Liceu in Barcelona, in 2013 he gave classes at the Robert-Schumann-Hochschule Düsseldorf, substituting for his former teacher Gregor Horsch and in 2014 he was invited to give master classes at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá.


More photos

See also

Johann Sebastian Bach: Chaconne from Partita for Solo Violin No.2, BWV 1004, arr. fof cello – Peter Schmidt

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suite No.4 in E flat major, BWV 1010 – Peter Schmidt

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suite No.3 in C major, BWV 1009 – Peter Schmidt

Johann Sebastian Bach: Cello Suite No.1 in G major, BWV 1007 – Peter Schmidt

Johann Sebastian Bach: 6 Suites for Cello Solo, BWV 1007-1012 – István Várdai (Audio video)

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