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BASIL RAMSEY discovers Bach in a different light

Bach Violin Sonatas. Andrew Manze, Richard Egarr, Jaap ter Linden. Copyright (c) 2000 harmonia mundi saThis impeccable team of stylish players aim - like any enlightened musicians - to recreate early music as it was intended, so far as historical and essentially musical factors can be interpreted. But they bring such passion to their performances as to catch the keen listener by the ears. I still recall, in pitiable contrast, some tame forays into Bach's violin sonatas years ago that had the impact of a jellyfish, with a consequentially devastating effect upon my wavering regard for his music.

The muscle of Bach's invention, whether fast or slow, is to be felt as a vital living force. The lesson has been generally learnt, but with varying doses of vitality for some and doziness for others.

This two CD set contains the six sonatas for violin and harpsichord, BWV 1014-1019, the Toccata and Fugue in D minor - the organ warhorse - which Manze himself has stripped down for unaccompanied fiddle in the probability that the work really did start life that way, and three other sonatas with no certainty of vintage but trademarks of the inestimable JSB.

One can only speak of one's own experiences in music, or of any art, without thought for anybody else. In such a case as this, I feel closer to the music having now heard it in a setting that brings three performers steeped in the traditions and mannerisms into a unity that depends then on their individual understanding and expertise.

To demonstrate when every track contains music in splendid balance and tension induces a bit of a dither for me, but here are some varied and disarming snippets: the Adagio from the B minor Sonata BWV 1014 with the delayed entry of the violin [listen - CD 1 track 1, 00:00-00:57] ; the delicious opening of the Presto from the Sonata in A BWV 1015 [listen - CD 1 track 8, 00:00-00:52]; the Adagio from one of the three variants of Sonata in G BWV 1019 [listen - CD 2 track 8, 01:00-01:42]; and the end of the final movement of a Sonata in C minor BWV 1024 that has no certain ascription to Bach [listen - CD 2 track 22, 03:32-03:59].


Copyright © 9 April 2000 Basil Ramsey, Eastwood, Essex, UK







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