Author Topic: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)  (Read 57675 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #220 on: March 29, 2018, 09:55:27 AM »
Has anyone heard this one?



I just listened to 1004 and 1005. Intimate; restrained; austere; small scale and and at times cute and pretty; some unexpected hesitations, silences.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2018, 09:59:14 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Toccata&Fugue

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #221 on: March 29, 2018, 12:51:48 PM »
I just listened to 1004 and 1005. Intimate; restrained; austere; small scale and and at times cute and pretty; some unexpected hesitations, silences.
Thanks. I think I'll stay with Milstein (DG), Kagan, and Grumiaux!
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Offline Toccata&Fugue

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #222 on: March 29, 2018, 01:11:11 PM »
One really has to wonder about Amazon at times. I just did a search for "Oleg Kagan Bach" and got this response:
We found 0 results for "Oleg Kaftan Beach"  ???
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Online André

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #223 on: March 29, 2018, 01:21:21 PM »
Has anyone heard this one?



My assessment is slightly more positive than Mandryka’s, altough I recognize these very qualities in Chung’s work here. They shouldn’t be construed as equivalent to unassertive or devoid of personality. Austere is cerrtainly the catchword here. Still, I prefer Ehnes, Grumiaux and Haendel (Ida).

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #224 on: March 29, 2018, 01:23:27 PM »
One really has to wonder about Amazon at times. I just did a search for "Oleg Kagan Bach" and got this response:
We found 0 results for "Oleg Kaftan Beach"  ???

You didn't notice the autocorrects.

Offline Toccata&Fugue

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #225 on: March 29, 2018, 01:44:20 PM »
You didn't notice the autocorrects.
It didn’t perform any autocorrects.
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Baron Scarpia

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #226 on: March 29, 2018, 01:56:28 PM »
It didn’t perform any autocorrects.

I reproduced your search, and you are right, no auto-correct was indicated. Bizarre.


Offline San Antone

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #227 on: March 29, 2018, 01:57:33 PM »
I reproduced your search, and you are right, no auto-correct was indicated. Bizarre.

Yeah, me too.  I did the same search in google and found the Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/Bach-Violin-Sonatas-Partitas-BWV1001-1006/dp/B003JFFKY4

Baron Scarpia

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #228 on: March 29, 2018, 01:59:56 PM »
Yeah, me too.  I did the same search in google and found the Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.com/Bach-Violin-Sonatas-Partitas-BWV1001-1006/dp/B003JFFKY4

And Amazon found appropriate content if I searched for Oleg Bach, but not Kagan Bach. They must have some sort of internal lexical processing that chokes on Kagan.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #229 on: March 29, 2018, 08:11:06 PM »
My assessment is slightly more positive than Mandryka’s, altough I recognize these very qualities in Chung’s work here. They shouldn’t be construed as equivalent to unassertive or devoid of personality. Austere is cerrtainly the catchword here. Still, I prefer Ehnes, Grumiaux and Haendel (Ida).


I really didn't mean what I said to be negative at all.
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Online André

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #230 on: March 30, 2018, 05:05:39 AM »
I didn't think there was a negative tone in your remarks. But maybe others might have thought otherwise. :-X

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #231 on: April 09, 2018, 04:19:48 AM »
I sampled the tracks on Amazon and was interested in what I heard, but will wait on purchasing.  There appears to be something of a trend in more recent Bach recordings which demonstrate slower, looser and, for lack of a better term, atypical interpretations of Bach: Anton Batagov, Wolfgang Rubsam, Viola de Hoog, Thomas Demenga (atypical in other ways), Gunar Letzbor.  And I've noticed that while I "love" them on first hearing over time they lose much of their attraction.

In your list, there's something very fundamental in common between Rubsam and Letzbor. They both believe that mainstream HIP is wrong about how to interpret the score. With Rubsam the error is about voicing, he has written about it on the website, along with Keith Hill and possibly Christoph Wolff too. With Letzbor it's to do with bowing, and in particular to do with the influence of Georg Muffat on JSB


Quote from: Gunnar Letzbor in an essay for the booklet of his solo Bach CDs
I am repeatedly astonished to see that many early music specialists, to the present day, stay well clear of Muffat. Is it not possible for us to assume that Bach’s dance music, strongly imitative of the French style as it is, was played according to the performance practice described by Muffat? But that would render impossible many things that are still heard everywhere! The special types of bowing and bow divisions make overly fast tempi impossible, for they strongly structure the melodies and give each figure an especially rhythmical character. The melos recedes into the background, allowing rhythmic components to appear. at the same time, the dance bowing is a help, allowing the formal structure inherent in the dances to emerge naturally.

One senses a certain initial irritation when playing dances in the manner described by Muffat for the first time. The results sound awkward, stiff and choppy; the feeling of bowing is as if one were about to lose the stick at any moment. a great deal of practice, patience and zest for experimentation is required in order to arrive at a satisfactory result . . .

Should one therefore play Bach’s solo suites with French bowing rules today? Let us approach the music in the way that a virtuoso of the Baroque period would have done! in his execution, a soloist surely showed consideration for the special characteristics of soloistic violin playing. the bowings are essential for playing together in the orchestra, but soloistic interpretation must be executed in a considerably more differentiated manner. Strict adherence to the rules would hinder an exciting interpretation, indeed render it almost impossible. This does not mean, however, that one can simply disregard all the rules. As a foundation, the rules continue to apply. They have arisen out of practical music-making and were developed by important violinists!

I like what Letzbor does, and I like what Rubsam does. I feel the opposite of you: I feel they grow in interest on repeated listening, rather than diminish.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2018, 04:41:00 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #232 on: April 16, 2018, 01:53:25 AM »
I listened to the Boris Begelman set last week.  Issued in 2017.
The set is titled Sei Solo making much of the "you're on your own, pal" play on words at the head of the score.


Moscow-born but based in Italy, according to the sleevenote Begelman has been featured soloist with several of Italy's specialist baroque ensembles.  He plays a violin dating from the 1790s.

He's pretty far along the severe, zero vibrato end of the performance spectrum, hardcore, inhabiting the same sort of space as Ingrid Matthews or Rachel Barton Pine.  He's recorded in a small but reverbrant acoustic sounding a little like someone playing in his bathroom, and I wouldn't say sweetness of tone is his highest priority.  Despite all that I did enjoy the music (I nearly always do, regardless of who is playing) and the playing is certainly assured and highly accomplished.  He takes the Chaconne faster than most, with an unusual stabbing staccato bowing which diminishes it a little, I think.

Good, but wouldn't displace Pine for me if I was in the mood for this type of performance, or Ibragimova for something just a notch less severe and more to my taste.  As the man himself says at the end of his sleevenote "Looking back ... ... I would have played it differently."
« Last Edit: April 16, 2018, 02:03:09 AM by aukhawk »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #233 on: April 17, 2018, 08:14:55 PM »
I listened to the Boris Begelman set last week.  Issued in 2017.
The set is titled Sei Solo making much of the "you're on your own, pal" play on words at the head of the score.


Moscow-born but based in Italy, according to the sleevenote Begelman has been featured soloist with several of Italy's specialist baroque ensembles.  He plays a violin dating from the 1790s.

He's pretty far along the severe, zero vibrato end of the performance spectrum, hardcore, inhabiting the same sort of space as Ingrid Matthews or Rachel Barton Pine.  He's recorded in a small but reverbrant acoustic sounding a little like someone playing in his bathroom, and I wouldn't say sweetness of tone is his highest priority.  Despite all that I did enjoy the music (I nearly always do, regardless of who is playing) and the playing is certainly assured and highly accomplished.  He takes the Chaconne faster than most, with an unusual stabbing staccato bowing which diminishes it a little, I think.

Good, but wouldn't displace Pine for me if I was in the mood for this type of performance, or Ibragimova for something just a notch less severe and more to my taste.  As the man himself says at the end of his sleevenote "Looking back ... ... I would have played it differently."


Thanks for mentioning this. I had a listen to Begelman in 1004-6. I thought he does bring something to the game:  decisive, angular phrasing.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2018, 09:18:38 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #234 on: April 18, 2018, 08:29:17 AM »
Yes - certainly that.

Offline aukhawk

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #235 on: October 27, 2018, 02:11:19 AM »


This release adopts the less usual layout of 3 Sonatas, followed by 3 Partitas.  This makes it less convenient to listen to the sequence Ciaccona-Sonata 3 Adagio-Fuga - as suggested by Tetzlaff in his sleevenotes, and as I have often enjoyed doing since reading that.

So far I've only listened briefly to the first 2 movements of Sonata 2, I'm a great admirer of Carmignola's Vivaldi and also his Bach concertos, here he sounds less hard-core than I was expecting and less muscular too, quite a tender approach to the first movement but crisper in the Fuga.  Early days, I'll be listening some more over the weekend.


Offline JBS

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #236 on: October 27, 2018, 06:46:22 PM »


This release adopts the less usual layout of 3 Sonatas, followed by 3 Partitas.  This makes it less convenient to listen to the sequence Ciaccona-Sonata 3 Adagio-Fuga - as suggested by Tetzlaff in his sleevenotes, and as I have often enjoyed doing since reading that.

So far I've only listened briefly to the first 2 movements of Sonata 2, I'm a great admirer of Carmignola's Vivaldi and also his Bach concertos, here he sounds less hard-core than I was expecting and less muscular too, quite a tender approach to the first movement but crisper in the Fuga.  Early days, I'll be listening some more over the weekend.

My first recording of the S&Ps was Heifetz, which had the sonatas on one CD and the partitas on the other, so I have no problem with that arrangement. The sonatas are structured differently from the partitas, and grouping each together brings out some important things.

I do think the idea that Bach intended the Chaconne as the midpoint, the keystone of the arch, of a alternating S and P layout has much merit to it.


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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #237 on: October 28, 2018, 01:46:51 AM »
Sure, it works either way and in any case I rarely want to listen to more than one Sonata or Partita.  In the score they alternate (though they are also all labelled 'Sonata' so that Sonata 2 as we know it is labelled Sonata 3 in the score, and so on).

Carmignola - on further listening he has grown on me, and the bottom line is, this has to be up there as one of the best recordings by a male violinist since Grumiaux (nearly 60 years ago now).

A couple of niggles first - the tagging on my downloaded FLAC copy (from Presto Classical) is awful, the 'Artist Name' tag is set to:
Giuliano Carmignola/Michael Seberich/Michael Seberich/Michael Seberich/Michael Seberich
so that on my portable player this spurious information scrolls back and forth continuously across the cover art, most annoying. Seberich by the way is the Producer. [edit: Producer/Engineer - he also engineered the highly-regarded Mullova recording.
Talking of the cover art, this was criticised by some over in the 'new releases' thread - well the bad news is the booklet contains several more cringeworthy photos from the same shoot, the photographer is credited as - Anna Carmignola.

Carmignola's instrument is only slightly less old than the music itself, and he extracts a beautiful rounded tone from it, well-recorded in a believable but maybe slightly too lively ambience.  The venue was the Gustav Mahler Saal in Toblach - not that I really believe the recorded ambience on this or any other modern recording is likely to be entirely natural.

He's not afraid to use light vibrato in the slower movements - notably the first movement of each Sonata - but also even in quicker passages such as the Borea Double that ends the 1st Partita.  Along with this he leans into his notes - reminding me of Rachel Podger - and personally I find this unattractive even though I'm all too aware that it is very common practice among baroque musicians and ensembles, and most people presumably like the effect.  whEn eVERy nOTe sOUNds lIke tHIs it gEts vEry wEAring.  This aside, the slow movements are generally beautiful, played with great sensitivity, but not without minor bowing fluffs which I presume have been left unedited to add 'character'.
The fugues are another matter entirely - crisp and articulate, and shorn of vibrato or any other mannerisms, they are played very convincingly.  The 2nd fugue in particular is played in a dance-like way, almost as a Courante, and this is as good as I've ever heard this piece played.  In the 3rd fugue he does sound a little stressed - for the only time throughout the set (as far as I've listened, not heard the 3rd Partita yet) there is a sense of struggle and some noticeable changes in timbre as the instrument moves around relative to the mics.
The 1st Partita with its dance movements brings us the familiar gutsy Carmignola of the Vivaldi concertos, very nicely done indeed.
Which brings me finally to the Ciaccona.  This is a most exraordinary performance, he seems to have complete mastery of the complexities and slithers through it all with a light and facile touch.  There is no sense of travail at all, he's as glib as a gypsy fiddler in a restaurant.

On balance, he joins my 'keepers' collection, having far more good than bad and a beautiful violin tone nicely recorded.  I'll edit the tagging and maybe re-order the tracks for my own personal use.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 08:20:35 AM by aukhawk »

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #238 on: October 28, 2018, 03:42:54 AM »
I had a listen to the second partita, just because the above comment about gypsies made me curious,

What I will say is that it is very nuanced, dynamically and rhythmically, and yet I think it avoids being over studied or self consciousness. I’d say that it  exudes an impression of quientness and thoughtfulness. The rubato and other embellishments seem to fit very organically with the music, and I suspect someone who didn’t know other performances would hardly remark that his interventions are his.

He is especially impressive when the music implies several voices, he manages these voices with extraordinary calm control, creating very natural tensions.

I thought the sound was very good, almost holographic. You know, even if my living room wasn’t transformed into the hall, he was there in front of me making music. I was particularly impressed by the sound in the sarabande.

I think « glib » and « gypsy »are unwarranted, but it did get my attention!  I hope he’s as interesting to hear in the other pieces in the set.



« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 03:53:39 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Bach's Violin Sonatas & Partitas (solo)
« Reply #239 on: October 28, 2018, 03:41:02 PM »
Well that remark was only concerning the Ciaccona specifically.  I'd say the set of 6 as a whole is a bit uneven, with more good than bad.  But that would be true of most 1st-rank musicians.
Overall I would probably rank this ahead of any other recording by a male violinist that I've heard, in the 21stC (and there have been a fair few good ones in the last 4 years alone).
« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 03:49:09 PM by aukhawk »