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For many violinists, J.S.Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are the peak of achievement in solo violin writing, and the booklet notes state that over the years, many generations of performers have continued `to attempt to tame this compositional monster'. The challenges to the violinist include good intonation, clean, clear articulation and the contrapuntal difficulties of highlighting individual voices in the fugues. There are also the problems of playing across four strings with the modern bows of today. So these six works definitely throw up some technical issues, which the violinist must address.
These works have been recorded many times since Yehudi Menuhin made the first complete recording in the thirties, as a young prodigy. The discography can be divided into 1. Performances on the modern violin, with modern bow, 2. Performances using the baroque violin and bow. My own preferences are for performances of the modern violin and my particular favorites are e.g Szeryng ( 2nd recording on DG), Perlman, Heifetz, Shumsky and Ida Haendel. I find the modern violin more expressive and, in capable hands, has the potential for a wider spectrum of colour. The baroque violin appears, to me at least, more limited in this regard. Lotter uses the baroque violin here, and this is vol. 1 (Sonata no 11 in A minor BWV 1003, Partita no. 11 in D minor, BWV 1004 and Sonata no. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001), I assume a vol. 2 will follow in due course. I think it is only fair to limit any comparisons to other baroque violin performances.
Generally, I find the performances on this CD impersonal and uninvolved. Phrasing is mannered at times and the playing sounds too self conscious . Read more ›
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