Raaf Hekkema

Bach | Raaf Hekkema | Arrangements | Complete Edition (4 DISC Download)

Regular price €59,95
Unit price

Raaf Hekkema

Bach | Raaf Hekkema | Arrangements | Complete Edition (4 DISC Download)

Regular price €59,95
Unit price
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J.S Bach | Arrangements | Complete Edition 

Raaf Hekkema

Challenge Classics / Turtle Records® / HQ|NORTHSTAR

Catalogue CC79006



Download Booklet Vol 1 PDF

Download Booklet Vol 2 PDF

Download Booklet Vol 3 PDF 


(Low Resolution excerpts)



About the Album

 Cover picture: Marco Borggreve


In 2012 I recorded, purely for personal use, all the Bach solo arrangements I had made up until then, including the first four movements of the second partita. After listening to them I realized that my self-imposed decree to keep my hands off the chaconne from that partita, suddenly no longer seemed etched in stone.So I took a stab at producing a convincing version of it.

Following my Paganini formula, I first made an ‘analytical’ version: one that would do justice to the construction of the music, disregarding all thoughts of what might be fun to play. An important step, because otherwise you end up taking the instrumental route too soon. Bach’s music is implicitly polyphonic: a melody usually contains more than one voice, played in turn and together forming the melodic curve as a whole. The register and relationship between the voices largely determine the buildup of tension in the music.

This applies to nearly all of Bach’s music, but in the violin works he often uses multiple strings simultaneously to explicitly underscore the polyphony. So first I had to find a credible solution for the issue of polyphony. After that the other me would get his chance: the saxophone player who had free rein to determine what sounded good and, perhaps more importantly, where the advantages of the saxophone over the violin (arpeggios, for instance, are easier to play on the saxophone) could be put to good use. In this inner collaboration, the analyst constantly had the upper hand, for we were talking about a meticulously constructed work by the greatest musical architect ever.

The resulting version satisfied both my identities: the analyst and the instrumentalist. With a sense of liberation I set to work on the remaining movements of the partitas, which went with hardly a hitch.


Raaf Hekkema: Since I started teaching at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, I have become more conscious of my self-chosen mission: to create a place for the saxophone within the classical music tradition. One way to do this is to forge a stronger bond between the players and the classical tradition, in the knowledge that the saxophone repertoire too is indebted to the great composers of the past. The most influential of them all is, without a doubt, Johann Sebastian Bach.

The path to this recording was long, windy and fascinating. It started with the awareness that the cello suites provide exceptional playing material for saxophonists. But I long felt that for playing Bach on the saxophone, only the light-sounding soprano saxophone would do—which was, I believed, incompatible with the instrument for which the suites were written. During preparations for my previous CD recording of Bach’s partitas for violin (Challenge Classics, CC 72648), I discovered that the alto sax—fitted with an old-style mouthpiece—could reproduce the refined articulation of the violin. Vintage mouthpieces represent the sound ideal of days gone by. Then came the idea to play the suites on six different saxophones, each of which holds a unique place in the history of the instrument. After that, much time went into working out a usable assignment of transpositions and an appropriate choice of instruments, the resulting sound character being the deciding factor.


Once again, this album celebrates the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, whom many consider to be the greatest composer of all time. After Bach’s Partitas (Bach Partitas for Saxophone [CC 72648]) and his Suites (Bach Suites for Saxophone [CC 72769]), I am now presenting Bach Solo, a new solo album containing my own selection of works.

The pandemic in 2020-21 brought little to dispel the gloom among performing musicians. Concerts and tours were cancelled for an extensive period, meaning that musicians and other performing artists were confined to home with no work. Musical life was falteringly restored here and there during those years, only to have everything closed down again on virtually no notice. But these months also proved to be a time of reflection and artistic rebirth for many. A large number of children were born as a result of the pandemic, but the arts became a breeding ground for spiritual offspring, and so it proved for me; the genesis of the work you can hear on this album. Finally, there was plenty of time to spend many hours every day working on the project against a background of calm, which made Bach’s music all the more comforting!

The prime cut with which I open this album is the Sonata I have assembled from Bach’s three sonatas for solo violin. While working on Bach’s solo violin pieces around ten years ago, I rapidly decided to confine myself to the partitas. Although these do not belong together as such, often being published with a sonata in between them, I felt it was a sensible choice, given that they are generally of a less complex texture. The sonatas would have to wait until I felt brave enough and had gained some more experience. I felt I had finally reached that point during one of the Corona lockdowns. I started with a couple of movements that I felt would be good samples, avoiding the fugues, which are almost unplayable even on the violin but could only be performed on the saxophone - a single voice melodic instrument – with some artificial help. I did not feel that would be appropriate to this style. After a lot of experimentation in different transpositions, it turned out to be possible to mould six of the total of twelve sonata movements into one cohesive whole, with the two central movements being in parallel major keys. Even though a sonata in six movements may go against musical tradition, I feel it is a very satisfactory solution from a musical perspective.

Album tracks


  1. Partita II, BWV 1004: I. Allemanda

  2. Partita II, BWV 1004: II. Corrente

  3. Partita II, BWV 1004: III. Sarabanda

  4. Partita II, BWV 1004: IV. Giga

  5. Partita II, BWV 1004: V. Ciaccona

  6. Partita III, BWV 1006: I. Preludio

  7. Partita III, BWV 1006: II. Loure

  8. Partita III, BWV 1006: III. Gavotte en Rondeau

  9. Partita III, BWV 1006: IV. Menuet I - Menuet II

  10. Partita III, BWV 1006: V. Bourrée

  11. Partita III, BWV 1006: VI. Gigue

  12. Partita I, BWV 1002: I. Allemanda

  13. Partita I, BWV 1002: II. Double

  14. Partita I, BWV 1002: III. Corrente

  15. Partita I, BWV 1002: IV. Double-Presto


  1. I Prelude

  2. I Allemande

  3. I Courante

  4. I Sarabande

  5. I Menuet I & II

  6. I Gigue

  7. II Prelude

  8. II Allemande

  9. II Courante

  10. II Sarabande

  11. II Menuet I & II

  12. II Gigue

  13. III Prelude

  14. III Allemande

  15. III Courante

  16. III Sarabande

  17. III Bouree I & II

  18. III Gigue

  19. IV Prelude

  20. IV Allemande

  21. IV Courante

  22. IV Sarabande

  23. IV Bourree I&II

  24. IV Gigue

  25. V Prelude

  26. V Allemande

  27. V Courante

  28. V Sarabande

  29. V Gavotte I&II

  30. V Gigue

  31. VI Prelude

  32. VI Allemande

  33. VI Courante

  34. VI Sarabande

  35. VI Gavotte I&II

  36. VI Gigue


  1. Sonata

    Performed on a Yanagisawa soprano saxophone (1992), mouthpiece Vandoren S27

    [1] Adagio BWV 1001/1

    [2] Allegro BWV 1003/4

    [3] Largo BWV 1005/3

    [4] Allegro assai BWV 1005/4

    [5] Grave BWV 1003/1

    [6] Presto BWV 1001/4

    [7] Chromatic Fantasia BWV 903

    Performed on a Buffet-Crampon Prestige alto saxophone (1984),

    vintage mouthpiece cut by Raaf Hekkema

    [8] Fantasia BWV 922

    Performed on a Yanagisawa soprano saxophone (1992), mouthpiece Vandoren S27

    Prelude & Allegro BWV 998

    Performed on a Buescher straight alto saxophone (1927), mouthpiece by Buescher

    [9] Prelude

    [10] Allegro

  2. Partita BWV 1013

    Performed on a Buescher curved soprano saxophone (1924), mouthpiece by Buescher

    [11] I. Allemande

    [12] II. Corrente

    [13] III. Sarabande

    [14] IV. Bourrée anglaise

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