“Bach first became my beacon when I was about 10 years old. I remember sneaking a peek at my piano teacher’s notebook and seeing the words “plays Bach well” under my name. That vote of confidence shaped my musical identity…”

Eleonor Bindman, pianist


The Six Solo Cello Suites are some of the most celebrated and much-loved works in the classical repertoire, and they continue to fascinate and inspire performers and audiences alike. In this brand new transcription for solo piano, Eleonor Bindman pays tribute to this music’s enduring allure. The Cello Suites project grew out of Eleonor Bindman’s ‘Stepping Stones to Bach’, arrangements of orchestral and choral music which aimed to help amateur pianists play Bach successfully. The 2-volume collection includes transcriptions of some of Bach’s most popular music, including the ‘Badinerie’ from the Suite BWV 1067, the chorale prelude “Wachet Auf”, “Erbarme dich, mein Gott” from the St Matthew Passion, and three movements from the Cello Suites. Inspired by how gratifying it felt to play those, Eleonor researched existing piano versions of the complete Cello Suites and was surprised not to come across any that were really true to the original.

The only straightforward piano transcription of any movements of the Cello Suites, dating from 1914, is by Russian pianist and impresario Alexander Siloti (1863-1945), a student of Franz Liszt. Siloti’s transcription gave Eleonor the resolve to pursue this project and arrange the complete 36 movements as closely to the original as possible. Playing through other variously enhanced piano versions, including an arrangement of all six Suites by Joachim Raff (c.1869-71) and of Suites 2, 3 and 5 by Leopold Godowsky (1924), Eleonor became convinced that the Suites didn’t need any “improvement.”

In her transcription, Eleonor has made a number of adjustments due to the different capabilities of the instrument, including slightly faster tempi especially in the Sarabandes, which also help make the harmonic structure more discernible. Here too she endeavoured to imitate the cello sound most closely, which would not have been possible without the marvellous baritone register of her Bösendorfer piano on which her recording was made. Some transpositions have also been necessary, and a variety of embellishments in repeats, some conventional and some more original. The transcription offers scope for some adventurous interpretation, particularly in the wonderfully playful pairs of Minuets, Bourrées and Gavottes.

The Cello Suites are the essence of Bach, a meditation which mysteriously connects us to ourselves and to the universe at once. My new transcription of this beloved set shows a refreshing perspective to a pianist, unencumbered by counterpoint and zooming in on the individual line, patterns, tone quality, and the great composer’s vocabulary. I find the experience of playing the Suites on the keyboard not only aesthetically satisfying but also relaxing and joyful. We could all use an opportunity to enjoy our music-making without unnecessary stress, especially in current times. I am also eager to bring these 36 pieces to many pianists and students because they are immensely beneficial for working on tone and finger technique.” –Eleonor Bindman

The recording of Eleonor’s transcription, made on her own Bösendorfer piano, is released on 9 October 2020 on the Naxos Grand Piano label, and the sheet music is also in preparation. This is aimed primarily at amateur pianists (intermediate to early advanced level) who relish the opportunity of playing music other than Bach’s works specifically for keyboard and who would like to be free of the rigours of complex counterpoint. Like the works included in her ‘Stepping Stones to Bach’, Eleonor has provided pianists with yet more repertoire to explore, and her elegantly, meticulous transcriptions shine a new light on this wonderful music while also remaining true to the original.

To listen to sample tracks or pre-order, click here

For press information about Eleonor Bindman’s Cello Suites for Solo Piano, please contact Frances Wilson

Guest post by Eleonor Bindman

Over the course of my work on arranging the Brandenburg Concertos many people would ask me: “Why not for 2 pianos?” Now that the project is completed and the recording has been released, I am still getting emails from fans of the new Brandenburg Duets CDs with the same question. Well, there are many reasons why and the teacher in me strives for thorough explanations, so here are a few paragraphs on the topic.

Of course, the question is perfectly legitimate, since two pianos would be much easier to work with when transcribing this piece, or any orchestral piece for that matter.  No need to decide which string parts to omit completely, no need to transpose up or down an octave, no need to worry about density of texture in the middle register or about dividing a harpsichord cadenza between two players. It would have been easier to have an entire keyboard for each pianist: no bumping elbows, no deciding whose hand goes into an awkwardly high or low position, no issues of balancing register volumes or exact sound and touch matching when sharing the same theme. The sheet music would have been easier to print as well, without having to fit the same measure numbers for each page of Primo and Secondo and to print the hard copies of music back to back.

The overriding reason for this being a piano-4-hands arrangement is elementary: two pianos are much harder to come by than one.  Think of how many times you have seen two pianos in the same room, unless you were in a concert hall or a music school. And now compare that to all the times you have seen one piano in a room, like in your own home, perhaps. You can play this music at home with a friend whenever you are both available, but imagine if you had to have two instruments? And for performances, bringing a second piano in for a concert always requires rental, extra tunings and (unless we’re talking about a major concert venue) moving/ transportation, ditto for a recording –all this means major expenses in a world were musicians barely get paid for anything. Incidentally, recording on 2 pianos is a lot more difficult than on one, as far as synchronicity goes.

My motivation for working on the Brandenburg Duets was to replace the old arrangement by Max Reger which was hastily done and has barely ever been performed. For the same practical reasons as above, his transcription was made for piano-4-hands, as were other transcriptions of Bach’s works, Beethoven’s symphonies, many opera overtures,etc.. There was a huge body of piano duet repertoire generated mostly in the 19th century when pianos were found in most bourgeois homes. Those duet transcriptions served the same function as the radios and records did in the 20th century: they made classical music accessible for the public’s enjoyment outside the concert hall.

All piano teachers know how important 4-hand playing is for one’s development as an ensemble player. Duets for beginners figure prominently in methods books, yet there isn’t much music for that medium written by great composers. Mozart’s Sonatas and Schubert’s works are the only extensive bodies of work that advanced students and adult amateurs can enjoy. I am hoping that Bach’s 6 Brandenburg Concertos – a total of 18 movements of the most wonderful and varied set of orchestral pieces ever transcribed for piano-4-hands – can give piano partners a new source of learning and enjoyment. The single-keyboard format dictates a thinner texture and therefore simpler parts for both pianists, suitable for intermediate/advanced levels.  Some slow movements are very easy to coordinate, some fast ones are quite difficult and there are many in between. Many faster movements sound equally good at a slower tempo and may be used for exercises in finger dexterity and coordination. And playing this in such close proximity, next to one another, has a unique sensation and feeling of partnership in music for pianists who normally don’t find themselves so close to others in chamber music.

Lastly, for me personally, meeting the challenge of adapting the music well to one keyboard and two players was the real purpose of this project.  The process exposed the complex polyphonic architecture of 6 very different pieces and somehow resulted in a version which seems to belong in our times as much as the original belonged in the 1700s. Bach’s music can be heard in a completely new way without losing its essence.

The Brandenburg Duets arranged by Eleonor Bindman and performed by Eleonor Bindman and Jenny Lin are available on the Grand Piano label, and also via streaming services. Further information here

Meet the Artist interview with Eleonor Bindman


Praised for “lively, clear textured and urbane” performances and “impressive clarity of purpose and a full grasp of the music’s spirit” (The New York Times), New York-based pianist, chamber musician, arranger, and teacher, Eleonor Bindman has appeared at Carnegie Hall, The 92 Street Y, Merkin Hall, Alice Tully Hall, and on solo concerto engagements with the National Music Week Orchestra, the Staten Island Symphony, the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, the New York Youth Symphony, and The Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra of Moscow, Russia. Ms. Bindman is a prizewinner of the New Orleans, F. Busoni and Jose Iturbi international piano competitions and a recipient of a National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts award.

Born in Riga, Latvia, Ms. Bindman began studying the piano at the E. Darzins Special Music School at the age of five. Her first piano teacher, Rita Kroner, hailed from the studio of Heinrich Neuhaus, the venerable Russian piano pedagogue. After her family immigrated to the United States, she attended the High School of Performing Arts while studying piano as a full scholarship student at the Elaine Kaufmann Cultural Center. She received a B.A. in music from NYU and completed her M.A. in piano pedagogy at SUNY, New Paltz under the guidance of Vladimir Feltsman. The Poughkeepsie Journal describers Ms. Bindman as a strong pianist who attacks her work with great vitality and emotion…and mesmerizes her audiences with her flair and technique” (Barbara Hauptman).

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