A research and recording project:  

Origins of the instrument, its technique, and the Bach Cello Suites. 


."Some move the bow as it is customary on the viola da gamba, that is,  instead of a down-stroke from left to right for the principal notes, they make an up-stroke from right to left, beginning from the tip of the bow."

J. J. Quantz about cellists, Berlin, 1752 


Bach Cello Suites by Marianne Dumas

FROM A PERSONAL INVESTIGATION TO A LONG PROJECT including relearning the bowing technique, playing the basses on the up bow.

upside down?!

"In October 2014, because of the similarity between the bass viol and the cello, I tried to inverse the bowing technique of the violoncello in the Bach Cello Suites. I played the basses on the UP bow.  During this experiment, I instantaneously felt a better response from the instrument and by consequence, more resonance. 

This experience led me to start  a project including: a research about the origins, the setup, and the bowing technique of the violoncello, the making of a new Urtext edition, and the recording of this edition on the most authentic set-up

The sound was my guide. My goal was to reach a connection between the vibration of the violoncello and the harmony in order to let Bach's music make its magic. » 


Marianne Dumas



    a journey

Marianne began her researches in 2011. She first investigated the technique, posture and resonance of the instrument always using the Bach Cello Suites as a reference. In 2014, as she was still looking for more answers, Marianne moved to Berlin and started to work full time on her project. Once in Berlin, she first worked with makers of baroque instruments, had encounters with baroque specialists, made her research in libraries including the research institut for musicology of Berlin. Following this process, she wrote a publication about the violoncello, its origin, technique, set -up and evolution. She also made a new edition of the Bach Cello Suites and recorded it with the instruments of the project (full baroque set up).

Bach Cello Suites CD recording


  • Arrived in Berlin


  • Started the search of the bow for the Suites


  • The Baroque Cello of the project


    Made by Daniel König in Leipzig

  • 09/26/2014

  • What if a dow stroke was an up bow in cello playing?


  • The strings


    Set of strings made by Pure Cordes, Potsdam

  • Understanding how to write slurs...




    Making the new urtext edition
    October 2014-December 2015

  • THE BOW!


    Mr. Reiners was of a precious help. I asked him for a model of bow that was used in Germany when Bach composed the Suites. A clip in frog bow.

  • Kept exploring the set-up possibilities in Leipzig


    With Daniel König, the maker of the cello

  • Meeting with Ton Koopman


    A very helpful meeting where we talked about phrasing with Maestro Koopman, I also explained my technique to him and received his encouragements



    5 days at the B#Sharp Studio in Berlin

  • Meeting with Yo-Yo Ma


    A Very nice meeting with Yo-Yo Ma, where he gave me his support

  • Received Ton Koopman's comments about the recording


    "I listened to the 6 Bach suites with pleasure. Very well done, I liked very much the resonance, intonation and the way of playing. Very convincing. A very good work and great success technically."

  • The New Edition


    Entered my Urtext edition of the Suites in the computer (the one of the recording)

  • Signed with URANIA RECORDS


  • The recording


Staatliches Institut für Musikforschung in Berlin 

To read about the instruments, strings, bow: clic here


How did you make this discovery?

I became aware of the fact that the baroque cello resonates far more when you reverse the bow strokes, which is very similar to the method of bowing on the viola da gamba.

(...) I then explored this idea and began playing the prelude of the First Suite on an up bow, which had seemd to me to be completely irrational. This experiment convinced me, I felt the vibration of the violoncello ad my arm followed the order of the strings in the arpeggios. The idea of reversing the bowing technique seemed to me illogical for a cellist but the more I experienced it, the more I became convinced I had keep exploring this topic.  

 […] Ton Koopman had played an important role for me. He encouraged me from the start of my project and we have had important discussions about phrasing together. He then sent me his observations after listening to the recording which really touched me. 


order - download - streaming

The recording of the Suites has been released by Urani Records, Independant label since 1998

You can choose a music service... 
(if you want to support independant artists and labels, you can order the CD to Urania Records directly)


The Edition


A NEW urtext edition of the Bach Cello Suites

The new edition can be played with "regular" technique, with strong bow on the down; or with the strong bow on the up bow (like on the gamba).

The edition will be available for download  on this website in 2024 (sorry for the delay!)

Listen to the recording of this edition

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