"In un’intensa interpretazione, particolarmente orientata verso la riflessione – la meditazione, quasi – Pierre Gallon ci dà una bella ed originale lettura di queste Suites, nelle quali il sublime contrappunto bachiano prevale sovente sulla vocazione danzante nel succedersi dei differenti movimenti." Ferruccio Nuzzo - Grey Panthers
Few of Johann Sebastian Bach's works have as many sources as the corpus known as the French suites. They make wonderful teaching aids and the fact that they were carefully copied out by so many of the Cantor’s students highlights the importance of a collection which is sometimes felt to be less musically ambitious than the English suites or the Partitas, although this is not actually the case at all.
Although it is now thought that a first version was composed in Köthen in around 1720, for the purpose of educating Bach’s beloved child Wilhelm Friedemann, “the son I love, the one who fills me with joy” (in the composer’s own words, as reported by the philologist C.F. Cramer), that first version is rather different from the one that has become standard nowadays.
Even so, added to the six opuses that are usually recognised, there are actually eight of these French-style suites and I thought it would be a good idea to collect them, along with a - fortuitously isolated - gigue by W.F. Bach to make up for the one that is missing. Indeed, they all show Bach’s desire to instil a certain idea of the French style into the friends and family members he taught - the subtleties of the discourse, the elegant simplicity of the melody line, the nobility and variety provided by the dances’ different characters, because one thing is for sure; what we have here are dances and the eight suites presented are all organised in the same way.
Bach left us a number of clues scattered throughout his work and today, a few centuries later, they al-low us to create our own Rosetta Stone, and thus gain an understanding of both his work and the way he interpreted the world in which he lived. I have a feeling that the French Suites are one of the tracks left on the trail, and I do not think it is any coincidence that this collection was studied in such depth by members of the master’s own circle. Today we are, of course, Bach’s children ourselves, the pupils of a teacher who has still not imparted the sum of his knowledge, the whole of his art. We must keep on trying.