Today’s world melted completely away for an audience of about 50 music lovers Saturday night when Boston-based cellist Benjamin Swartz performed the first three of Bach’s six Unaccompanied Cello Suites at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury.

Mr. Swartz plays the second three Bach cello suites at the church Sunday beginning 7 p.m., preceded by a 3 p.m. talk at the West Tisbury library.

The intimate sanctuary of the 17th-century West Tisbury church, with its simple, classical design and near-perfect acoustics, proved to be the ideal environment for Bach’s early 18th-century cello solos.

To help take the audience even further from the present day, Mr. Swartz dressed the part in an open-collared white shirt with wide, bloused sleeves.

“I donned the puffy shirt for the occasion,” said Mr. Swartz, whose upturned mustache and serious gaze gave him the look of a young ma in a Dutch master portrait.

More to the point, Mr. Swartz played the first of the evening’s three works — Suite No. 1 in G major, with its famous, ascendant Prelude — on an instrument from Bach’s time.

“This is an experiment in historically informed performance,” he said during his introduction.

“I’m holding a five-string violoncello piccolo with gut strings, I’m holding a baroque bow,” he said.

Along with the fifth string not found in modern cellos, Mr. Swartz’s instrument was topped with the carving of a curly-haired head above the tuning keys. It has no stand, so the cellist gripped it between his knees as he sat on the edge of a piano bench as he played Bach’s music on the gut strings.

Mr. Swartz turned to a modern cello for the second and third suites, taking about a five-minute break between each of the three during which audience members chatted sociably before welcoming him back to the stage with applause.

This weekend’s concerts and Sunday afternoon presentation at the library kick off the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber Music Society’s fall cello festival, which continues Oct. 26 at the library with a 3 p.m. concert for two cellos.