Guardian Angel

Album title:
Guardian Angel
Bach; Matteis; Tartini; Pisendel; Biber
Works by JS Bach, Matteis, Tartini, Pisendel and Biber
Rachel Podger (violin)
Channel Classics
Catalogue Number:
BBC Music Magazine
Guardian Angel


The title of Rachel Podger’s new disc is taken from an engraving of an angel and child on the manuscript of the piece that closes it: Biber’s haunting G minor Passacaglia, a work whose implications would find their apotheosis in Bach’s great D minor Chaconne for solo violin some 40 years later. But there’s a sense that, when it comes to the unaccompanied violin repertoire of the Baroque, Podger is something of a ‘guardian angel’ herself.

Here she champions lesser-known figures such as Matteis – a violinist whose London performances were described by the diarist John Evelyn as ‘stupendious’ – while despatching Pisendel and Tartini with an almost angelic insouciance. Having already recorded peerless accounts of the Bach solo Sonatas and Partitas, Podger opens with her own transcription of the A minor Flute Partita, BWV 1013 – transposed into G minor, ensuring that the disc goes tonally full circle by ending with the Biber in the same key – and the result is so idiomatically persuasive it will give ammunition to those who have long suspected a violin ‘original’ lurking behind the Partita BWV 1013’s flutey exterior. Characteristically unforced and natural, the playing manages to sound endlessly considered yet spontaneous. There’s a sureness to the placing of every note, whether poised or bristling with bite and bravado. And Podger speaks the Italian of Tartini with a native fluency that, in the A minor Sonata’s first Allegro, is deliciously conversational, almost conspiratorial. All in all, utterly ‘stupendious’.

Paul  Riley