Feb 13, 2017

New Bach Edition, Revised (NBA rev). 4


A great disappointment

On November 2016, Bärenreiter Verlag published Bach's Cello Suites of "New Bach Edition, Revised Edition" (NBA rev. 4 / Editor: Andrew Talle).

First of all, there is a misprint in the 6th suite, Prelude, bar 24, 9th note: it is f ♯, not e. Of course, it is a little thing, but...

There are three serious mistakes; they are:

1. 1st Suite, Prélude, from bar 33 to 36: lack of double stems.
Of course, they must be played in double-stopping of open A-string and stopped a on the D-string.
See Neglected double stoppings

2. 5th Suite, Allemande, bar 25, 1st bass note: it is not b♭, but g.
In the New Bach Edition (1988), Hans Eppstein wrote g correctly. Why was it changed into wrong note ??? The editor writes "the bizarre chord" (page XLIV), but we can see this chord in the other works of Bach. For example: The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book 2-3 C♯ major, Prelude bar 11, Book 2-16 G minor, Prelude bar 12, St. Matthew Passion, Finale bar 11, and Mass in B minor, Gloria bar 56, Quoniam, bar 14 and 91.
See With Lute arrangement
If Dr. Talle was the editor of these works of Bach, did he change their notes ?

3. 6th Suite, Prélude, bar 91, last note: it is g, not a. Bärenreiter must correct it immediately into this surprising, amazing, astonishing, beautiful, wonderful, excellent, incredible, remarkable, extraordinary 7th note.
See Two neglected g

Why I said they are "serious mistakes" ? Because on these three places, all the sources are unanimous. I can't completely understand why the editor chosen these wrong notes. For what reason did he choose the notes which don't exist in any sources ! (that is which Bach did not write !)

And I must add that Henle edition (2000) chose correct notes in these places. Why after 16 years, must we go back to the 20th century? This is the third edition as Bach Ausgabe (first edition 1879, second edition 1988 and third edition 2016).  When at all can we see the double-stoppings of the 1st Suite Prélude ?

About the sources, the editor write some interesting things (for example, how Kellner has mistaken at the Menuet 1 of the 2nd Suite), but the most important thing about sources is Sources C and D (= Source G) are the descendents of Source A (Anna Magdalena Bach). We find 17 common errors among Sources A, C and D.

   (See also Preface)

I wonder why no Cello Suites researchers refer to these common errors.
Unfortunately we don't have Bach's autograph of the Suites, therefore it need a some knowledge and sense of music for understand these errors, but fortunately, about the 5th Suite, we have Bach's autograph of his own arrangement for lute, so we can understand easily 7 common errors of the 5th Suite, and at these places Kellner (Source B) is the same as Lute arrangement (except last one; there are only first 9 bars in Gique).  

My hypothesis of the relationship among the sources


Other points in question 

1st Suite 


Allemande, bar 29, 10th note: f instead of d; it is not misprint but is in the Sources C and D, Paris First Edition and Dotzauer. I think it is simple error of Source G. If it was f, I think it needs g before.

2nd Suite

Allemande, bar 9, 3rd beat: lack of a on the upper voice. The editor indicate a as ossia in a footnote, but it is obvious that a in 16th note in the 2nd beat is an anticipation, so it requires another a as chord tone (diminished 7th) on the next beat.

3rd Suite 

Gigue, bar 24, last note: the editor chose e according to Sources C and D, but I think it is Anna Magdalena's error. She wrote e and then rewrote d, but the copyist of Source G understood it was e. It is very unnatural as a passage note, because it consists a new chord (g-c-e) with precedent note (g). This case is very similar as the 5th Suite, Prélude, bar 193 (see bellow).

4th Suite

is very good. I agree to all notes.
See also Attention to the flats!

5th Suite

Prélude, bar 170, 1st note: the editor refer to the possibility of a in a footnote; it is admirable but in truth, it is nothing except for a. And bar 193, 3rd note: it is of course a, there is no possibility of g.
See Scordatura, too complicated

Allemande, bar 25, 2nd 4th note: c-d-b is two 16th notes and a 8th note, not a 8th note and two 16th notes.
See With Lute arrangement

Gigue, bar 16, 2nd note: it is d♭, not d♮.


6th Suite

Sarabande, bar 31, 1st bass note: it is g♯ as Kellner wrote it, not g♮.
See Two forgotten sharps

Gigue, bar 8, 4th note: it is c♯, not e. And bar 18, 2nd beat: e-c-e is probably Anna magdalena's error.
See The finale


  1. For your comment on Suite 1, bar 29, you undoubtedly mean in the Allemande, not the Courante.

  2. Thank you Mr. Starkweather, I have corrected it. And thank you also for your videos about Bach's Cello Suites. I studied from them.

  3. Also, in the second minuet of the first suite, the key is just one flat, and missing some of E flat.