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LIVE from the WRTI 90.1 Performance Studio: Baroque Cellist Juliana Soltis Plays J.S. Bach

Teresa Tam Studio
Cellist Juliana Soltis

Join us on Tuesday, October 1st at 12:10 PM when cellist Juliana Soltis, praised for her "fierce displays of technique, her impassioned rhetoric'"(Gramophone) visits the WRTI Performance Studio with WRTI Host Susan Lewis in advance of a performance at Philadelphia's Christ Church Neighborhood House. Her new CD explores "the long-lost tradition of spontaneous improvisation" in the Bach cello suites.

Juliana performs all over the world as soloist and chamber musician, specializing in historic performance of the Baroque classical cello, violincello piccolo, and viola da gamba. In her new CD, Going Off Script; The Ornamented Suites for Cello, she breaks with 200 years of interpretative tradition to add spontaneous improvisation or ornamentation.

"[Bach] left spaces for the performer to finish the process of composition," she writes. "The suites were never intended to be museum pieces but rather, living works of art."


J.S. BACH: Prelude, Suite No. 1 in G Major

This piece is one of the most recognizable in Classical music, and certainly the most iconic work in any cellist's repertoire! Seeing me with my cello on my back, complete strangers come up to me on subways and airports and sing this Prelude to me, and I love knowing that a work can touch people in such a lasting way.

J.S. Bach: Courante, Suite No. 1 in G Major

This movement is so much fun, and an excellent one for illustrating the concept of ornamentation! Listen carefully for the return of material you've already heard - that's where I'll be improvising on the music to complete Bach's compositional process.

J.S. BACH: Menuets 1 & 2, Suite No. 1 in G Major

When I was 11, I begged my teacher to let me learn the Prelude from this suite. She said I wasn't ready, I swore I was, and so eventually we compromised and I learned these paired Menuets instead - they were my first experience with Bach!

J.S. BACH: Gigue, Suite No. 6 in D Major

This suite was written for a cello with five strings, which can exist in a number of forms, including the violoncello da spalla (played on the shoulder) and the violoncello piccolo. I chose to perform and record this suite on a violoncello piccolo, and I just love the different colors and sounds that are possible on this tiny, five-stringed instrument.

Equal parts performer, scholar, and musical provocateur, cellist Juliana Soltis delights in connecting audiences with the forgotten stories of classical music through historically-informed performance. She performs at Christ Church Neighborhood House on October 4th as part of her 21-city US tour celebrating her album, Going Off Script: The Ornamented Suites for Cello (King Street Records).

When she is not on tour, Juliana enjoys long-distance running, hunting for vintage and antique recordings, and binge-watching tv shows with her rescue greyhound, Rain.

Susan writes and produces stories about music and the arts. She’s host and producer of WRTI’s TIME IN online interview series, and contributes weekly intermission interviews for The Philadelphia Orchestra in Concert series. She’s also been a regular host of WRTI’s Live from the Performance Studio sessions.