J S Bach - Sonatas and Partitas
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Label: Canary Classics
Cat No: CC14
Number of Discs: 2
Release Date: 2nd March 2015
ArtistsGil Shaham (violin)
WorksSonatas and Partitas for solo violin (complete), BWV1001-1006
ArtistsGil Shaham (violin)
J S Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are considered by many as the pinnacle of musical achievement, arguably the composer’s most demanding and emotionally penetrating works. After living with, reading about, listening to and playing these seminal works for over 30 years, Gil Shaham offers a fresh and vital new perspective on these works, undertaken in 2014 as part of his Artist-in-Residence with Symphonieorchester des Bayerischer Rundfunk.
Bach is a composer who has influenced every generation of composer and musician. Here Shaham’s insight and bold originality speak to his willingness to take interpretative risks, while his innate musicianship and warmth – what Musical America calls his “special kind of humanism” – ensures that his performances bring out the partitas’ dancing rhythms along with their soul. ‘I find the music an amazing spiritual experience. There’s something very uplifting about this music’, says Shaham.
These works have been part of Shaham’s concert programmes for over 10 years and for this recording he has decided on a ‘more Baroque set-up’, opting for a Baroque bridge, Baroque bow and 3 of 4 strings being gut.
When asked what effect this set-up has on his interpretation, Gil indicated that ‘it changes every stroke, but it doesn’t really change general ideas of interpretation. You can do everything with both sets of bow and bridge, although some things are easier with the modern bow, some with the Baroque one. The “small softness” (coined by Leopold Mozart) is easier with the Baroque bow.’
The tempos Gil Shaham has settled on in this recording are also quite different from what one might expect. Shaham takes inspiration from other works by Bach, as he explains; ‘if you compare the French minuet from Partita No.3, with say the minuet from a French suite, or even the famous ‘Anna Magdalena’ minuet I found myself asking myself wouldn’t it work better at the same tempo as the others? The Baroque bow is lighter and is easier to play faster.’
The deluxe package comes complete with Shaham’s insightful views on these works in discussion with former Strad Magazine editor Ariane Todes.
Gil Shaham remains second to none in the masterworks of the mainstream violin repertoire, and here offers a recording of bold originality in what is one the most unforgiving of old-school challenges: that of playing solo Bach.
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