Viktoria Mullova

The Russian violinist masters fiendish Bach

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Viktoria MullovaDressed in a long zebra-print dress, Viktoria Mullova cut a relaxed figure as she walked onto the Bristol St George’s stage.

And, right from her unhesitating dive into the Adagio of JS Bach’s Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001, it felt like we were somewhere much less formal than a concert hall, as if we were sitting at home with Mullova while she played. To be clear, that felt like a privilege: her casual demeanour makes this fiendish music appear a doddle, each movement ended almost inconsequentially – too inconsequentially? – with no holding of the silence.

She was technically superb: the bariolage passages in the Third Partita were thrilling, the delineation of individual voices in the G minor Fugue eloquent. And there’s both the sense that this is music she’s lived with and that she’s still exploring it, finding new nuances and shades of meaning, right there, in concert.

For part of the programme, Mullova played from a tatty-edged score with a blue cover from which blazed in white ‘Bach’. The Second Partita in D minor, with its masterful 15-minute final Chaconne, was the pinnacle of the concert; Mullova gave a performance of intensity and inevitability. It felt like we had got to the heart of Bach. And at the end she brought her bow down slowly to her side and held it still, with a look of seeming sorrow on her down-turned face.

For more information about classical concerts at St George's, Bristol visit the website.

Photo: Foto Puck