No doubt many of you are wondering whether I should be recording Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas at the age of only 21. Perhaps I should have waited a bit longer? Well, patience has seldom been my strong point, and after all I have already waited a number of years for an opportunity to record these works. During the first six years of study with my teacher Ana Chumachenco, I studied the sonatas and partitas thoroughly, and first performed both cycles in their entirety in the Bach year 2000, during the course of two evenings at the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Festival.
'Testament' is Rachel Barton Pine's very personal homage to the music of J. S. Bach, on which she performs the composer's complete Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin in the acoustic of her hometown St. Pauls Church in Chicago, where she first heard and fell in love with Bach's music.
The late Nathan Milstein’s 1975 stereo remake (DG mid-price) was his own preferred version of these pillars of the violin repertoire with which he had been so associated since his youth in Odessa. But his (broadly faster) mid-Fifties New York account, now remastered and restored by EMI, was a famous yardstick of its time – a grandly phrased, aristocratically structured, Romantically resonant statement to treasure beside Menuhin and Heifetz. These are epic virtuoso performances justifying Milstein’s view that with this music the performer could ‘bask in the most glamorous light’. Stylistically, purists will object to their expressive liberty and gesture. But few will be able to resist their artistry or intensity of delivery.
Gidon Kremer has again recorded the Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin of Bach and while his facility and technical grace are intact, in this recording he appears to have been deeply influenced by his time with the moderns (Adams, Pärt, Schnittke, Piazzola, Glass, et al). For this listener it seems that studying and performing these contemporary composers' manipulation of sound and instrumental scope has enriched Kremer's thought about the perfection of Bach. Not everyone will agree with Kremer's approach to these works on this new recording, but for those who know Bach's solo violin pieces there are pleasures in store. Remaining technically suave and with a luxuriant tone, Kremer seems to be communicating with the psychological Bach, offering different tempi and more soulful approaches than those of his colleagues. The results are mesmerizing. Highly recommended.
Born in London, Ontario, Lara St. John was a child prodigy on the violin at the age of two, and went on her first European tour at the age of ten! At age thirteen she skipped from the eighth grade to a B.A. program at the Curtis Institute of Music. She plays a priceless 1779 Guadagnini violin. Her compelling personality and insightful performances have stimulated interest in classical music in a wide audience that seldom listened to it before. She scandalized some of the old school for appearing scantily clad on a couple of album covers, but she is completely authentic: a great violinist, whatever she is or is not wearing. As one critic wrote, she "has nothing to hide"–her musicality is first class. Lara St. John's brilliant musicianship, striking looks, and vivid personality have made her an authentic classical superstar. Recorded at Skywalker Sound in Super Audio and available in Hybrid.
The six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin by JS Bach are regarded by many as the greatest works for the violin ever written. They have been described as "legendary and monumental", "the profound work of genius" and "representing the very pinnacle of human achievement, a transcendence, through music, to another world". Demanding a technical mastery and innate musical understanding on the part of the soloist these works have been recorded by the most revered violinists of the past century. With this recording Richard Tognetti confirms his place as one of the world's finest violinists providing his own distinctive and unique interpretation of these beloved works.