JS Bach: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin (2CD)

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Rachel Podger


CD 1

Sonate Nr. 1 In G Minor BWV 1001
1-1 Adagio 3:40
1-2 Fuga 5:35
1-3 Siciliano 3:02
1-4 Presto 3:46

Partita Nr. 1 In B Minor BWV 1002
1-5 Allemanda 5:47
1-6 Double 3:31
1-7 Corrente 3:25
1-8 Double 3:42
1-9 Sarabande 3:47
1-10 Double 2:32
1-11 Tempo Di Bourrée 3:40
1-12 Double 3:56

Partita Nr. 2 In D Minor BWV 1004
1-13 Allemanda 4:28
1-14 Corrente 2:39
1-15 Sarabanda 4:26
1-16 Giga 3:57
1-17 Ciaccona 13:36

CD 2

Partita Nr. 3 In E Major BWV 1006
2-1 Preludio 3:42
2-2 Loure 4:08
2-3 Gavotte En Rondeau 2:40
2-4 Menuet I, II 5:22
2-5 Bourrée 1:25
2-6 Giga 2:05
Sonate Nr. 2 In A Minor BWV 1003
2-7 Grave 3:53
2-8 Fuga 8:32
2-9 Andante 4:49
2-10 Allegro 6:00
Sonate Nr. 3 In C Major BWV 1005
2-11 Adagio 4:17
2-12 Fuga 9:49
2-13 Largo 3:18
2-14 Allegro Assai 5:01

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“Hitherto we have heard Rachel Podger only in early chamber works and as Andrew Manze's partner in Bach double concertos: here now, at last, is an opportunity to hear her on her own. And you couldn't be more on your own than in Bach's mercilessly revealing Solo Sonatas and Partitas, perhaps the ultimate test of technical mastery, expressiveness, structural phrasing and deep musical perception for a violinist. Playing a Baroque instrument, Podger challenges comparison with the much praised and individual reading by Monica Huggett: she has many of the same virtues – flawless intonation, warm tone, expressive nuances, clear understanding of the proper balance of internal strands – but her approach is sometimes markedly different. This is most obvious in the great D minor Chaconne, in which Huggett's rhythmical flexibility worried some people, but in which Podger, here as elsewhere, while fully characterising the varied repetitions of the ground, is intent on building up the cumulative effect. One pleasing general feature of her playing, indeed, is her firm but unassertive rhythmic sense; others are the absence of any suspicion that technical difficulties exist (instead a calm control, as in the G minor's Siciliano), her subtle phrasing (as in the B minor Corrente, with the fleetest of doubles), the cross rhythms of her G minor Presto and, most strikingly, the poetic feeling with which she imbues the initial Adagio of the G minor Sonata. She touches in chords lightly: though some might have been split downwards rather than upwards so as to preserve the continuity of a lower part (for example, in bar 5 of the B minor Allemande, bar 10 of the Chaconne and in the 18th and 19th bars of its major section). Her D minor Giga is stunning. Altogether a most impressive and rewarding disc.

As a matter of tactics disregarding the printed order of the works, the second disc opens in the most effective way with a joyous performance of the ever-invigorating E major Preludio. At once we can recognise Podger's splendid rhythmic and tonal vitality (not merely Bach's marked terraced dynamics but pulsatingly alive gradations within phrases), her extremely subtle accentuations and harmonic awareness (note her change of colour at the move from E to C sharp major in bar 33), are all within total technical assurances. The Gavotte en Rondeau is buoyantly dance-like, and in the most natural way she elaborates its final statement(throughout the Partita her ornamentation is stylish and convincing). She takes the Giga at a restrained pace that allows of all kinds of tiny rhythmic nuances. Only a rather cut-up performance of the Loure detracts.

In the sonatas she shows other sterling qualities. She preserves the shape in the A minor Grave's ornate tangle of notes; she judges to a nicety the balance of the melodic line against the plodding accompanimental quavers of the Andante; she imbues the C major's Adagio with a hauntingly poetic musing atmosphere, and her lucid part-playing of its Fuga could scarcely be bettered. In the Fuga of the A minor Sonata, however, she unexpectedly allows herself considerable rhythmic freedom in order to point the structure. The final track is a stunning performance of the C major's closing Allegro assai which would bring any audience to its feet.”

- Gramophone Classical Music Guide, 2010

"Ah, Bach's lyrical sonatas and partitas for solo violin! Wait: Bach's lyrical sonatas and partitas? One has heard of Bach's emotional or intellectual or spiritual sonatas and partitas -- but never Bach's lyrical sonatas and partitas. And yet when Rachel Podger plays Bach's sonatas and partitas on her unreconstructed 1739 Pesariuius violin, they do indeed sound first and foremost lyric. With a dulcet tone and very expressive phrasing, Podger makes Bach's music sound preeminently lyrical, that is to say, vocal. Although clearly a superb technician, Podger's formidable prowess disappears completely inside her shaping, her molding, and her breathing of the melodies. Compared with most other violinists, Podger's E major Partita is warmer and wittier, her A minor Sonata is stronger and more serious. Her C major Sonata is lighter and more luminous. While by no means the only recording of the works one should hear -- there's the emotional Milstein, the intellectual Kuijken, or the spiritual Végh among many, many others -- Podger's 1999 recording should be heard by anyone who knows and loves the works. With a slight halo around the instrument, Canal Classics' recording is clear and deep and has a real sense of time and place."

- James Leonard,AllMusic.com

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