Bach: Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin
Having worked with Nikolaus Harnoncourt and the Vienna Concentus Musicus, as well as with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, Christine Busch is equally at home with both Baroque and modern violins. In her recording of Bach’s Partitas and Sonatas for unaccompanied violin, Busch has settled for the former, playing an 18th-century south German or Austrian instrument with a bow modelled on one dating from circa 1730.
I find Busch’s playing utterly compelling. As well as impeccable intonation, she sustains an eloquently punctuated and gently modulated dialogue, into which her listener is immediately drawn. Her spacious tempos seem chosen to convey the musical argument with cogency and expressive charm. Nowhere is this more beneficial to our understanding of Bach’s supremely challenging art than in the great Chaconne of the D minor Partita and the formidable Fuga of the C major Sonata, with its myriad polyphonic subtleties and linear implications. Busch takes us on these extraordinary and demanding contrapuntal journeys with seeming effortlessness, bringing beautifully crafted shape to her phrasing as well as a pleasingly varied range. Seldom have I heard a violinist make such sense of this music.
A set to treasure, it has delighted my sensibilities from start to finish. The allegro assai of the C major Sonata is irresistible, and so is the playfully articulated Gavotte en rondeau of the E major Partita.