Bach's Abstraction

by Matthew Raley [youtube=]

The cello suites by Johann Sebastian Bach are not light fare, by anyone's standard. The six pieces retain the characteristic rhythms and patterns of emphasis of old dances. But I doubt anyone ever danced to them. Bach used the dances as structures for his more abstract compositions.

This movement, the Saraband from the Suite No. 5, could be considered the most abstract of the entire set. Some moments are so chromatic that one could lose track of the harmonic progressions, which in themselves are linear and implied, not vertical and literal.

And yet, for me, this is one of the most emotionally compelling movements in all the cello suites.