Bach the great, Gabrielli the first
Two Parallel Universes

cello Mauro Valli

Domenico Gabrielli Ricercare II in A minor
Johann Sebastian Bach Suite V in C minor for cello BWV 1011
Domenico Gabrielli Ricercare V in C major
Johann Sebastian Bach Suite III in C major BWV 1009


Bach’s Suites (1720-1723) seem to have nothing in common with the Ricercari of “Minghein dal viulunzel”, composed in Bologna in the 1880s.Yet, Mauro Valli is sure, and he is not alone, that there are credible connections. Gabrielli’s Ricercari are the earliest attested works for solo cello: they sound like bass lines without any cantabile parts, but they clearly explore all the expressive possibilities of the instrument. And thus, perhaps, it is not too big a leap to try and work on the unwritten ornamentation that was typical of the performance practice of his time, as is usual with Bach’s scores. Finding a compromise between the Bolognese and the German tuning, which might not be too far-fetched, since Bach’s Suite n. 5 calls for “scordatura”, very close to the tuning used in late 17th century Bologna.