Johann Sebastian Bach: Six suites for solo cello, BMV 1007–1012
Played by Yo-Yo Ma. The Frauenkirche, Dresden, 31 January 2018.
Auferstanden aus Ruinen
Once, the Frauenkirche was reduced to rubble.
Yet Yo-Yo Ma now plays Bach in the new old church.
His instrument is an orchestra that lives inside his cello.
He has even found room for a baroque organ
and a medium-size boys’ choir.
Music arises from the cello
And fills the room with dense sound matter.
The church aligns itself further
and flakes of misery fall off its walls.
The couple in the front bench try to focus on the music.
They are unsuccessful. He sensually caresses the Stradivarius of her back.
The music can wait. The instrument, though, carries a promise.
The cellist strokes the strings with his bow and tilts his head back.
A strip of lights bombards his glasses
with photons which reflect
and turn into the beams of anti-aircraft searchlights.
What is a pair of glasses against an incendiary bomb carpet?
The saraband bears witness to the city as a lunar landscape.
The dead Christ hangs on the cross, no church for him.
It is accomplished.
The music follows its own timeline. From Köthen, Bach can see
the sea of flames illuminating the horizon where Dresden lay.
Too sad. It wouldn’t be wrong to write down a few cello suites.
Six pieces should be enough to put a rather large church in order.
The front bench couple have missed both the fire and the miracle,
but applaud more eagerly than most.
An important message to the public: All clear.
Dresden, 31 January 2018
Translated from the Swedish by the author
Also translated into Polish