Cellist Juliana Soltis Improvises Works Composed By Bach In New Album ‘Going Off Script’

Cellist Juliana Soltis’ new album “Going Off Script” features ornamented works from Johann Sebastian Bach.

Courtesy of Juliana Soltis

Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Six Suites Of Unaccompanied Cello” was composed in the 18th century and has been performed faithfully for more than 200 years. Baroque Cellist Juliana Soltis decided to challenge that tradition with her own interpretation.

Her new album, “Going Off Script: The Ornamented Suites for Cello,” explores the controversial practice of improvising the works of one of the most well-known composers of all time.

“What if this music we know and love so much was incomplete? What if there was more? And that’s where the idea of “going off script” comes from. It’s that Bach left spaces in his music, places where he essentially writes in a secret coded indication that you should improvise here,” she said. “On the repeated sections, if you hear me play something, then you hear me play it again, that’s where you really want to pay attention because that’s when these improvised bits are going to happen.

“And the effect is that every time you hear this music, it’s different. Never to be repeated.”

“City Lights” host Lois Reitzes spoke with Soltis ahead of her concert Friday at 6 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church Atlanta.