When I’m looking for what would illuminate and most completely fulfil the potential of Bach’s writing in the Cello Suites, my attention is consistently drawn to its hierarchy. Clearly, there is always a framework of fundamental events and experiences which are then more fully experienced and celebrated through layers of elaboration and embellishment.

Finding these fundamental features of structure is key, since this perspective also reveals the structural function and expressive potential of every note in every layer of elaboration, as well.

With their edition of the Bach Cello Suites, Selma Gokcen and Kenneth Cooper provide us with a tremendous service by giving us a guided tour and visceral sampling of the “essence” of these pieces. This grounding experience can naturally lead us to more effortlessly insightful and gratifying interpretations.

Timothy Eddy, Professor of Cello, The Juilliard School

I think that this is probably the most important addition to the scores of existing editions of the Bach Cello Suites. Although having access to the various facsimiles is fascinating enough, often the problems of interpretation are simply compounded by virtue of the inconsistencies in Anna Magdalena’s copying, and the contradictions presented by several of the other contemporary musicians who copied out the now lost autograph score.

This new project by Selma Gokcen and Kenneth Cooper really gets to the heart of the matter by stripping down to the bare essentials of harmony, counterpoint and rhythm these towering masterpieces in a way that is immediately practical for all that want to go deeper into the interpretation of the Suites. Hand in hand with a working knowledge of baroque performance practice, we should all be armed with this fascinating and thoroughly insightful new work.

Raphael Wallfisch, Professor of Cello, Royal College of Music

In this obvious labour of love, Selma Gokcen and Kenneth Cooper have provided both a detailed insight into the structure and ornamental possibilities of the Six Bach Suites for Cello, and a testament to the greatness and creative potential that these Suites represent. The imaginative way that the authors have revealed the layers and voices of Bach’s musical language makes examination of their material accessible and instructive for cellists at any stage of their development. I applaud the work that went into producing such a volume and endorse the results with admiration and enthusiasm.

Ralph Kirshbaum, Professor of Cello, Piatigorsky Chair, University of Southern California / Professor Emeritus, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, England

Having studied Selma Gokcen and Kenneth Cooper’s expert work on the Bach Suites for Cello, I find that it has simplified a very complex problem for most cellists, where so many editions have surfaced and make the study of the Bach Suites a puzzle rather than a musical adventure. I must thank them for simplifying and making their study available to all students of the Bach Cello Suites.

Bernard Greenhouse, Beaux Arts Trio, Dr. Emeritus and Professor, New York State University

This work, “Bach Revealed” A Player’s Guide to the Solo Cello Suites, by Selma Gokcen and Kenneth Cooper, is a most excellent, interesting and imaginative approach to an experiential analysis of Bach’s Cello Suites.

While personally, I am one who thinks that the Suites speak for themselves, one cannot help but notice that there are more editions of these works by cellists who want to add their own insights into the works, than any other literature written for the cello.

This current approach is definitely a unique departure from the usual editions, which deal mainly with bowings and fingerings for performance purposes. This work is a very clear and lucid contrapuntal and harmonic analysis through the playing of the basic framework or structure of the Suites. Indeed, understanding these basic musical elements and experiencing the phrase direction and differentiation is going to give more clarity to a performance than simply being concerned with the details of bowings. Naturally, the choice of these details will reflect one’s basic musical understanding of the works, but clarifying the musical language is fundamental, and this new work gives one the tools for that exploration. This approach gives a cellist, even at a young age, the opportunity to hear and experience, through playing, the underlying structure. Then, when all of Bach’s rich figuration is resumed, it brings the performances to life with all the color and rhythmic energy with which the Suites abound.

The work of Selma Gokcen and Kenneth Cooper represents a real contribution to the study and realization of these works through musical understanding and performance. As cellists we are just grateful that Bach gave us this music to live with all our musical lives.

Bonnie Hampton, Cello Faculty, San Francisco Conservatory
Formerly of The Juilliard School

Studying Bach is a lifetime of peeling back the layers of the proverbial onion, digging deeper into understanding the endless possibilities that are revealed in the Suites. Selma Gokcen and Kenneth Cooper’s work provides students and teachers with an important tool that can help explore and understand the deep structures of the music by providing a bass line and by simplifying the melodic line. I have used her Player’s Guide for myself and with my students. Since Bach can be interpreted in so many ways, I am by turns intrigued, challenged and inspired by this Guide, and my students have been excited by the discoveries that they have made as a result of using it. I recommend it highly as part of any cellist’s journey of exploration into the mysteries and possibilities contained in the Suites.

Bob Jesselson, Carolina Distinguished Professor, University of South Carolina; Past President, American String Teachers Association

I’ve used Bach Revealed with some of my students and found that this edition opens ears and creates deep interest for this incredible opus which keeps us cellists busy for a lifetime.

Thomas Demenga, Professor of Cello, Musikhochschule, Basel, Switzerland

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