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Last week’s Bach Cello Suite #1 took us on a lyrical journey along easy meadow paths, setting a sauntering tempo and a joyful outlook. This week’s Suite #2 has a distinctly different timbre.
Suite #2 in D minor keeps us off-kilter throughout its six movements. The #2 is filled with syncopation and efforts to avoid an emphasis on the downbeat. By reinforcing the second beat of the bar in the first movement, and interspersing the melody with sets of running 16th notes, Bach sets the listener upon a very different musical path. A second off-kilter technique is the avoidance of a solid foundation. Although it does have a “bass line,” this suite alludes to it, rather than explicitly outlining it. The quick runs – up and down and around – make it difficult to find a solid footing.

D minor is a key that creates a somber, serious, sometimes tragic atmosphere. But in this work there is also a sense of perseverance and untapped strength. In contrast to Suite #1’s cheerful G major key, we have now entered a darkening forest, where tree roots and rocks might trip us up.
Lent consistently calls us into the darkness of the unknown or possibly the long-forgotten. We follow because the beauty of the music is irresistible. Despite the unknown path, the melody tells us a true story that we long to know better.
Dive in to Suite #2 this week. It’s a path that may reveal new insights and wonders.
Sound Theology #181 – Lent 2