Electrifying New Arrangements of Three Bach Cello Suites With Naren Budhakar on Tabla and Anthony Burr on OrganOn March 27, 2012, eOne will release Bach: An Imaginary Dance, an electrifying recording of three of Bach’s cello suites. Cellist Charles Curtis along with producer Robert Sadin have crossed space and time to bring into the studio one of the most ancient sources of rhythm – the tabla drum – along with additional organ colors in their re-interpretations of Bach’s C Major Suite, E Flat Suite and G Major Suite. Together, Curtis and Sadin bring a respectful yet fresh look at some of music’s most beloved works.
The inspiration behind these new arrangements resides in the essential wellspring of dance. Bach took Baroque dance forms as the template for his sublime abstractions, spinning webs of music that have entranced, mystified and exalted the spirits of musicians and audiences for hundreds of years.
It is safe to say that there has never been an interpretation of the suites like this one, an energizing acoustic embellishment that makes these pieces truly sparkle on an almost otherworldly scale. “I'm fairly certain that Bach never heard or saw a tabla; and the instances of percussive instruments in his music are limited to kettle drums in a handful of orchestral moments, to my knowledge,” declares Curtis. Though an unusual combination, it is not unusual to hear Bach reimagined with different sounds. Bach was flexible in his instrumentation, both casting the solo violin and cello works for lute and leaving the keyboard instrument for the continuo unspecified. The composer has been the object of such extensive and varied adaptation, from Mozart on through to Mendelssohn and Schumann, the later Romantics, and Schoenberg, Webern, Berg and Stravinsky, as if Bach had himself left the door a little ajar.
These well-known, solo suites are simple, if austere, pieces of beauty. "We hoped to re-discover a quality of pleasure - even indulgence - of the unaccompanied suites," says Curtis. The addition of the more colorful instruments brings in the Baroque period’s love of excess and extravagance. The elaborate interpretation also focuses on the spirit of the dance embodied in the pieces - the dizzying abandon of the Gigue, the solemn momentousness of the Sarabande, the seductiveness of Menuets and Bourrées. Though it’s unlikely that Bach’s music was danced to, it is through these unique interpretations that the listener hears differently and perhaps feels the dance rhythm anew.