MARY COSTANZA

J.S. BACH: 6 CELLO SUITES

J.S. BACH: 6 CELLO SUITES

The Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, BWV 1007-1012


Johann Sebastian Bach

MARY COSTANZA, violoncello

Cello: Giovanni Dollenz [triste, 1832]

[MS1450]

$19.95

LISTEN
REVIEWS
“Costanza produces a rich, full-blooded tone on her 1832 Giovanni Dollenz cello, using her own edited version of the Suites, which she eventually hopes to publish. Her performances evince an innate sense of style. Pacing, phrasing, tempi and dynamic contrasts are all convincing. Intonation is spotless. Her technique is formidable and she performs these masterworks in a cultivated and compelling way. These performances augment an already well-represented catalogue, and admirers of these works will not be disappointed. I found them an enriching experience.”
Stephen Greenbank, MusicWeb International [October 2013]
“Based on this recording it is hard to believe that she isn’t serving in a major symphony orchestra, so I can only assume that it is by choice. Technically she is all you could ask for: clean, even exceptionally clean technique, solid if consistently subtle tonal qualities, and a good sense of phrasing… I do appreciate the incredible sense of line and clarity that Constanza brings to the music.”
[ * * * ½ ] Steven Ritter, Audiophile Audition [September 2013]
“In [Costanza’s] pursuit of the essential character and inner truth in JS. Bach’s 6 Suites for Unaccompanied Cello. BWV1007-1012, she is truly in her element… The key to understanding [the Suites], which Costanza and other latter-day artists appreciate, is an awareness of rhythm and rhythmic flexibility. Applying that knowledge, Bach’s engaging family of dance suites for solo cello can come to immediate, vibrant life under a skilled and insightful interpreter such as Costanza… [The] Prelude of Suite No. 5 in C minor is the darkest, most emotionally charged of the entire set. Costanza really bears down here in order to bring out its essential character in the process of a slow exploration of the cello’s deepest range… Costanza gives the slow, intimate Sarabande, deep water mark of all the suites, a personal interpretation that underscores its Passion-like pathos.“
Phil Muse, Audio Society of Atlanta [Midsummer 2013]
PROGRAM NOTES
Johann Sebastian Bach composed the Six Suites for Unaccompanied Cello sometime around 1720 in Cöthen, while he was in the service of Prince Leopold–one of the few times in his career when he was not working for a church. It was during this period that he wrote many of his famous secular pieces, including the Violin Sonatas & Partitas, the Brandenburg Concertos and the Well-Tempered Clavier books.

There are no surviving manuscripts of the Cello Suites in Bach’s hand. Fortunately, his second wife Anna Magdalena (who was an outstanding musician in her own right) also put the suites to paper, but without any indications of articulations or bowings. This was normal for the time, considering that it was common for players to freely interpret or improvise many aspects of the music.

Each Suite consists of a Prelude (an introductory piece) followed by a sequence of French dances. The original intent of the pieces is unknown, though each numbered suite increases in difficulty and length. There is also no established performance practice; players typically perform them as a complete suite or as separate movements.

Although today the Cello Suites are considered among the most familiar and profound of Bach’s works, this was not always the case. For many years these pieces languished in obscurity, looked upon as technical exercises rather than legitimate repertoire.

It took Pablo Casals’ 1890 “discovery” of the Suites to bring them to the forefront of the musical world. As a boy searching for new music, he stumbled on an old Grützmacher edition in a second-hand shop in Barcelona. Legend has it that he practiced the Suites for twelve years before performing them in public, and his seminal 1930s recording for EMI of the Complete Suites (still available today) secured their position in the canon of classical music.


Born and raised in Fairport, New York, Mary Costanza studied with Lynn Khale Richmond, a graduate of the Curtis Institute and the Assistant Principal Cellist of the Rochester Philharmonic
Orchestra. At age 17, Mary won the prestigious Albright Award sponsored by the Rochester Philharmonic and the Eastman Theatre and as a result performed Lalo’s Cello Concerto in D minor as a soloist with the orchestra. During her high school years, she performed as Principal Cellist for the New York State Summer School of the Arts in Saratoga, New York.

Costanza attended the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she received a BM degree under the tutelage of Stephen Geber, Principal Cellist of The Cleveland Orchestra. During that time, she regularly performed as a member of the Canton Symphony under the direction of Gerhardt Zimmerman and received fellowships to attend the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California and the Blossom Music Festival.

After receiving her undergraduate degree, Costanza earned a fellowship to perform with the National Orchestral Association under the direction of Alvaro Cassuto. The NOA performed in Carnegie Hall for a full season of concerts sponsored by the New York Philharmonic and Columbia University in New York City. She also served as a member of the Rochester Philharmonic during their summer season at the Canandaigua Performing Arts Center. She was accepted to The Juilliard School where she studied with Zara Nelsova. Costanza was also awarded annual fellowships to the Aspen Music Festival to continue her studies with Nelsova. Mary holds a MM degree from Juilliard.

Mary Costanza maintains a thriving private cello studio in Connecticut that serves students of all ages (8 to 88). She regularly presents solo recitals and performs with numerous ensembles in the Tri-State region. She is currently Assistant Principal Cellist of the Greenwich Symphony under the direction of David Gilbert, and served for many years in the Hudson Valley Philharmonic. Mary is on the music faculty at The Hotchkiss School, where she has been an instructor in cello for more than 10 years. She enjoys performing in the summer at the Windham Chamber Music Festival under the direction of Robert Manno, and often collaborates with composer Sharon Ruchman, premiering and recording her chamber music.

PROGRAM

JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750)
THE SIX SUITES FOR UNACCOMPANIED CELLO

CD1
SUITE NO. 1 IN G MAJOR, BWV 1007
Prelude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Menuet I & II
Gigue

SUITE NO. 3 IN C MAJOR, BWV 1009
Prelude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Bourrée I & II
Gigue

SUITE NO. 5 IN C MINOR, BWV 1011
Prelude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Gavotte I & II
Gigue 

CD2
SUITE NO. 2 IN D MINOR, BWV 1008
Prelude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Menuet I & II
Gigue

SUITE NO. 4 IN E-FLAT MAJOR, BWV 1010
Prelude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Bourrée I & II
Gigue

SUITE NO. 6 IN D MAJOR, BWV 1012
Prelude
Allemande
Courante
Sarabande
Gavotte I & II
Gigue
 





MSR Classics