D is for Dance
This is an extract from interviews with Mark Morris and Angela Hewitt, which will be broadcast on Radio 3 during 'A Bach Christmas'.
'I've choreographed three pieces of J. S. Bach. One was a project called 'Falling Downstairs' with Yo Yo Ma, based on the C major Cello Suite.
I studied the score of the suite and realised a couple of things. It's far simpler than I thought - there's very little material, just a descending scale and a couple of broken arpeggios. The whole piece is based on this. It's stunning to realise that such a simple idea is bent and stretched to make the most astonishing possible sound world.
The melody is often only in your mind, it's implied by what happens between different voices playing simultaneously. The polyphony implies a simpler tune that you're hard pressed to whistle because it's not there.
Like almost all Baroque music it's all based on Dance rhythms - the cello suites and the suites in the partitas are filled with Gigues, Sarabandes and Allemandes which spring from dance modes of the time and beg to be danced to.'
'Bach is Dance music - even in pieces like the preludes and fugues there are minuets, bourees, gigues, passepieds - all the dances are there, you just have to recognise them. '