The Count

Bach Sonatas and Partitas

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There is something about Bach that can simultaneously soothe my often aching brain while also stirring my flagging soul :stereo: and nothing more so than the sonatas and partitas for solo violin (though I don't mind a bit of flute or oboe now and again either :^).

I've been listening to quite a few recordings lately but I'm still left wanting for something elusive. I've enjoyed the Mullova recording and also the David Grimal despite them being being quite different. I wondered about the Ibragimova set but I have a recording of her doing one from a BBC cover disc and it didn't quite float my boat and I didn't quite get on with Podger either.

I remember watching Kennedy play I think the partita #2 in D minor at the Proms last year on the magic lantern and thoroughly enjoyed that but sadly he doesn't seem to have recorded them.

So, who floats your boat, and who do you recommend I try (ideally for the complete set) bearing in mind I really like Kennedy's playing style for them?

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I've got quite a few versions on my CD shelves and have heard quite a few more - my fave is Christiane Edinger on Naxos. She's slow, but serenely intense and totally magical. ... you remember that Shosty Violin Concerto slow movement that held you totally spellbound on your first visit to Jerry Towers? - well, it's summat like that.

I can bring the lass round on Saturday. :) ... and some others.

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I've got quite a few versions on my CD shelves and have heard quite a few more - my fave is Christiane Edinger on Naxos. She's slow, but serenely intense and totally magical. ... you remember that Shosty Violin Concerto slow movement that held you totally spellbound on your first visit to Jerry Towers? - well, it's summat like that.

I can bring the lass round on Saturday. :) ... and some others.

Ahh Michael Erxleben I think that was. Cor blimey, that did things to my brain I just don't understand, absolutely blew me away. Haven't heard the Edinger - will look forward to that :^

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On the strength of Jerry's recommendation I have just bought a used copy of the Edinger version from Amazon. Price 49p plus £1.26 p&p. That has got to be worth a punt. I would spend more than that on a glass of wine. I noticed there was another copy for the same money so if you are quick ...........

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This music has been an exploration of mine for around ten years now...

Perhaps the pinnacle of the human creative spirit.

Ibragimova, for me is wonderful. It's my current favourite recording, the one i keep going back to... pure, unflourished, clear, shes plays without flourish or adornment, but her instrument delivers something truly, truly special. Importantly... Bach speaks through her technique and instrument

here she is playing;

This is of course, a matter of personal taste, and some may prefer a warmer, richer tone, but for me, it would be in my ten desert island discs.

Other recordings I think also pretty esssential include;

Gidon kremer on ECM

John Holloway on ECM

Isabelle Faust Harmonia Mundi

and my other current favourite... a recent recording on the French label Zig Zag territoires, Amandine Beyer

heres a review....

beyer_bach.png

[h=2]Amandine Beyer and the Sonatas and Partitas of one Johann Sebastian Bach[/h]

BWV 1001-1006. Now in 2011, we have a number of excellent digital recordings at the ready, many recorded on the so-called baroque violin. Among them is this new release from the French violinist Amandine Beyer, for Zig-Zag Territories. The cover depicts a woman, looking away from us, and her body and dress are some how liquid, being dragged out in blank ink. It’s artfully done, and maybe in fact be the artist. It lists her as playing the violon, for in 2011, we don’t bother any longer with defining a performer by the age or style of their instrument.

I’ve come to know Beyer by way of her earlier recordings, such as the one by Matteis, and another by C.P.E. Bach. Watching video of her perform, I was impressed with her interpretive style and her desire to change her playing position to accommodate the habits of the composer (Matteis).

First, Beyer is playing a beautiful instrument. It’s listed as a modern copy by Pierre Jaquier from 1996. It’s got a dark character, with some of the lower notes with a lot of bloom to the sound. She plays without much notice at all of vibrato (win win for me). She plays in a very sympathetic acoustic, with enough “air” to support her instrument, but not “so live” that that we feel she’s far away from us (or her microphones). Occasionally we may hear her breathe, but otherwise, the recording is well done.

Bowing rarely has a sharp “edge” sound. A great example is the fourth movement (Allegro) of sonata BWV 1003. She’s careful enough to vary her articulation but her bow hand never digs into the strings with force. I find this pleasing, but “the softness” of attack might really stand-out for fans used to a more traditional, “romantic” era violin and bow.

Beyer plays with a range of dynamics that supports the music in interesting and affective ways. Nothing is over done, but we might not expect it to be with a baroque mindset. For many of these tracks, Beyer plays with an approach in which she seems to be enjoying the music.

As a bonus track, she offers the Pisendel Sonata a violin solo senza basso in four movements. The booklet notes mark the connection between Pisendel’s solo sonata (after the style of Bach’s?) and the inspiration for Bach of the solo violin works by Westhoff. Anton Steck has recorded the solo Pisendel, and has made it to sound quite difficult; a serious struggle. Beyer whips it off more carefully, but also in a far less-serious presentation.

From the notes:

All the same, we should certainly take care not to see the Sonatas and Partitas in an exclusively serious light. And provocation, derision and humour are indeed to be found in them: one need only recall that the fugue of the Sonata in C major is the longest Bach ever composed, or point out the popular-sounding, pompous theme of the Gavotte en rondeau (Third Partita), and notably its conclusion, which brings the learned thematic development to an end with a deep pantomime bow. And what is one to think of the final piece of the set? That brief Gigue, simple and fluid, which can be played as it comes from start to finish, without one double stop! Could this be the composer begging our pardon for the wild imaginings that have gone before? Or recommending that we should not take them too seriously? Does he wish to draw the conclusion that effort, doubt and reflection lead to enlightenment?

Beyer sees Pisendel as a central figure to the works, alongside her desire for us to not take them so seriously. To wit:

That’s why I thought it was an interesting idea to add the Sonata by [Pisendel,] this virtuoso violinist, written in a language much closer to the instrument’s idiom, and whose lyricism and technical pitfalls (certainly perfectly suited to the hand of the composer-performer) suggest to me a Baroque version of the Sonatas of Eugène Ysaÿe. I don’t think it’s rash to assert that Pisendel’s talent must have been central to the process which produced this work that surpasses our understanding.

For more on the label behind this release, visit their website.

And don’t delay in picking up this interpretation. It’s at its best kind of free and relaxed, with not getting too slow. It’s well done, and significantly different than others I own. It’s Beyer’s first solo album, but it’s superb.

It’s less severe than the excellent recent interpretation by Mullova, it’s more natural sounding than Huggett’s, and the sound and recording are improved from the release by John Holloway.

If you have around 13 minutes (exactly the time she takes to perform Bach’s movement from his Partita, BWV 1004), you go on a journey. Busoni’s rendition for the piano is a wonderful journey. And in the hands of the right violinist, you’ll be transported, too. Among my favorites is the rendition of late done by Gidon Kremer for ECM. He’s got that hard attack down well (using an adjusted Baroque instrument and modern bow), but he simply milks more out of this showpiece than most. Beyer’s version is nice. It’s more tame than some, but it’s a tasteful and beautiful. It’s less about what she brings and more about what she let’s Bach do as the composer. She passed my litmus test.

enjoy your explorations ....

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beyer_bach.png

Amandine Beyer and the Sonatas and Partitas of one Johann Sebastian Bach

QUOTE]

Nice post Eric. 13 minutes on youtube has just been well spent :) Free and relaxed certainly seems a good description. Perhaps a nice foil to the Mullova...

I have not heard the Kremer so will endeavor to do this. I will give the Ibragimova link a try now :^

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After a bit of a S&P Fest with Phil yesterday, when I took along all of my recordings of the Sonatas & Partitas and played quite a few excerpts from many, the following will now be hitting the eBay for-sale auctions! - Menuhin, Colliard, Gringolts, Lautenbacher & Rosand.

We played extended sections of Edinger on Naxos, and I fell head over heels in love with her all over again. :) Yes, slow - but perfectly formed, and heartbreakingly beautiful. I hang on to every perfectly-timed note and chord. These are, I think, my Desert Island Discs of the S&Ps. And the sound quality is sublime, too - a slightly reverberant acoustic, perfectly captured.

Phil wasn't as bowled over by her as I was, but I do think he appreciated her charms.

Also of supreme merit was Yossi Zivoni, on a Meridan CD. More conventional in speed, but he really penetrates to the core of this perfect music in a way that the young and trendy pretenders to the throne singularly fail to do, to my humble ear. I only had Volume 2. I have now purchased Volume 1 from Amazon. Ooo - I can't wait to get it.

Phil, who was that young lass playing on the BBC Music CD? She played the notes OK, and yes, very photogenic. But give me old-timers with a lifetime's experience, love and devotion to the music and the resulting (but far from inevitable) gain in maturity, insight, beauty and depth. :^

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If you want emotional rather than cool or analytical, Sergey Khachatryan is pretty amazing...

[video=youtube;r5aYMmgGSb0]

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Phil wasn't as bowled over by her as I was, but I do think he appreciated her charms.

Also of supreme merit was Yossi Zivoni, on a Meridan CD. More conventional in speed, but he really penetrates to the core of this perfect music in a way that the young and trendy pretenders to the throne singularly fail to do, to my humble ear. I only had Volume 2. I have now purchased Volume 1 from Amazon. Ooo - I can't wait to get it.

Phil, who was that young lass playing on the BBC Music CD? She played the notes OK, and yes, very photogenic. But give me old-timers with a lifetime's experience, love and devotion to the music and the resulting (but far from inevitable) gain in maturity, insight, beauty and depth. :^

Edinger was a bit slow for me. Maybe in 15 years or so I'll get there :P

Zivoni was interesting :^

The lass was Ibragimova. 2007 BBC music mag cover disc. Check out Eric's link above Jerry, see if you think there's a difference a couple of years after the BBC disc.

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Edinger was a bit slow for me. Maybe in 15 years or so I'll get there :P

Yep, you're young, frivolous, skittish and superficial. :roll:

You'll find, with the passing of the years, that you become like me; old, frivolous, skittish and superficial. ;-)

The lass was Ibragimova. 2007 BBC music mag cover disc. Check out Eric's link above Jerry, see if you think there's a difference a couple of years after the BBC disc.

Mmmm... yummy. That view of cleavage at about 20 seconds in had me hanging on to the end of the movement. :bouncey::^

Wot? - ah, the music. Yes. Pretty good. Actually, very good. But tbh lacked the musical insight of Edinger at the same sort of speed, and Zivoni at a somewhat faster tempo, both go far deeper into the music, imho.

As she gets older Ibragimova's interpretation will deepen, I feel sure. Alas, her boobs will start to sag, so will she then have the same appeal? :dunno:

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Super Wammer
Yep, you're young, frivolous, skittish and superficial. :roll:

You'll find, with the passing of the years, that you become like me; old, frivolous, skittish and superficial. ;-)

Mmmm... yummy. That view of cleavage at about 20 seconds in had me hanging on to the end of the movement. :bouncey::^

Wot? - ah, the music. Yes. Pretty good. Actually, very good. But tbh lacked the musical insight of Edinger at the same sort of speed, and Zivoni at a somewhat faster tempo, both go far deeper into the music, imho.

As she gets older Ibragimova's interpretation will deepen, I feel sure. Alas, her boobs will start to sag, so will she then have the same appeal? :dunno:

Jerry, have you been forgetting your bromide again ?!!

k

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Here's the homework for the Spotify enabled. There will be a test :geek:

Happy listening.

Wow. Thanks for that. Feel free to make further suggestions for other repertoire ('Cello Suites?).

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