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Gidon Kremer: Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo

Gidon Kremer: Johann Sebastian Bach: The Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo

Release Date:2005

By Daniel Schlosberg | Posted 12/14/2005

Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas, the most sublime works ever written for the violin, receive a new, startling interpretation from Gidon Kremer, the most engaging and surprising violinist working today. Kremer has always been ahead of the game technically, musically, and above all intellectually. He was one of the first classical artists to discover the tangos of Astor Piazzolla, and has been a consistent advocate of “difficult” contemporary music, as well as minimalism. He also has recorded these Bach works before, back in 1980.

Kremer brings all of these experiences to bear on this recording, and the result is a reading truly unlike any other. It’s easy to think he plays like a period-instrument specialist, with his rollicking tempos, lightness of tone, and sparseness of vibrato. But you hear these six works, whether they be dance movements or fugues, filtered through John Adams, Webern, even tango. Besides the innumerable nuances of phrasing and harmony, what strikes you throughout is Kremer’s special way with rhythm—an incredible addictive earthiness that manages to be ethereal at the same time.

Probably the most famous and greatest movement is the Chaconne from the second Partita. A simple, imposing theme is stated, followed by 64 variations, and then that spare theme again, a journey of tremendous depth. The recording itself parallels the journey: Having foraged in every conceivable corner of the classical-music world, Kremer has made this most welcome, moving return to its canon.

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