Bach’s violin arranged for cello?

Bach’s violin arranged for cello?


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2021

The Chaconne from Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004 for Solo Violin.

It has just been done.

The arrangment is by Gabriel Martins, a young American/Brazilian cellist under management with Concert Artists Guild and Young Classical Artists Trust.


  • christopher storey says:

    His effort was wasted ; most of it is pitched too low to be effective, and makes much of it sound like some sort of exercise

  • ACN says:

    Pretty sure it’s been done before, by other cellists….

    • Steven Holloway says:

      It has — a couple of those preceding are on YT, and older ones date to the early 19th century. Not much new here.

  • 18mebrumaire says:

    There are many such arrangements for solo cello; there is an early 19th cent MS of the complete set in the STABI for instance. Some work well, some don’t.

  • Una says:

    Lovely playing, but is the cello so short of repertoire to have to use what was intended for the violin? I know you get it all the time. Rachmaninov’s Vocalise is another one they have appropriated by cellists, and hardly sung as Rachmaninov intended – by the soprano voice and far more difficult than to just execute a beautiful tune.

    • Ben G. says:

      Olga Koussevitzky, the wife of the famous Double Bassist and conductor Sergei Koussevitzky, told the story of how the Vocalise was originally written for her husband’s instrument. Unfortunately, due to a falling out between the composer and himself, Rachmaninoff attributed the work to the Soprano repertoire.

      This anecdote may be a a legend, so I may be wrong….

  • Very nicely done. Nevertheless, Vito Paternoster recorded all of the Sonatas and Partitas on a Cello in 2003.

    The available information attributes the transcription to an anonymous 18C source.

  • MusicBear88 says:

    I’ve played the Brahms piano transcription for many years, which is mostly in this octave, and I think it’s glorious. Mr. Martins clearly has the chops for it, too.

  • Edgar Self says:

    An ambitious undertaking of what seems to me one of the greatest single works of instrumental music. More power to young Gabriel Martins’s elbow!

    The excellent Italian cellist Vito Paternoster transcribed and recorded all Bach’s solo violin sonatas and partitas on the cello, including the Chaconne, as well as all Bach’s cello suites.

  • Larry W says:

    Just been done? A simple YouTube search finds at least 20 solo cello versions going back 10 years, including this one. Like most, it is an octave higher and in the original key.

  • Micaelo Cassetti says:

    If Rachel Podger can record the Cello Suites on violin, I see no reason a gifted musician can’t play Bach’s violin music on the. cello. JSB transcribed a great deal of his own – and others’ music.
    IIRC, none of his harpsichord concerti are “originals.”

    • Anthony Princiotti says:

      Indeed. The common notion of pieces of music being untouchable “works” of art is a phenomenon that only cropped up in the mid-to-late 19th century; until then, transcription was a conventional aspect of music-making. Of course, some transcriptions work better than others, but that’s another issue.

  • Patricia says:

    Why not just play the Bach Cello Suites?

  • alejandro gigena says:

    Excelente. Gran trabajo! Mis felicitaciones.

  • MacroV says:

    Alexander Rudin recorded the Partita as part of his recording of the Cello Suites.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:

    ====It has just been done.

    Afraid this is old news. I’ve heard several cellists play this work, transposed down an octave and a half

  • Peter S says:

    Well he plays it a lot better than i could. (Perhaps better even than some of the many expert commentators here.)
    So i take my hat off to him.

  • Edgar Self says:

    Bach’s Chaconne is transcribed for cello, viola, piano left hand by Brahms, piano two hands by Raff and Busoni, harp, full orchestra, and guitar, which it fits like a glove (Narciso Yepez, Segovia!).

  • York says:

    He sounds fabulous whether this has done before or not. Don’t be peanut butter and jealous guys.