Bach: Violin Sonatas, BWV 1014, 1015, 1016, 1017, 1018, 1019

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5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Maya
WORKS: Violin Sonatas, BWV 1014, 1015, 1016, 1017, 1018, 1019
PERFORMER: Maya Homburger (Baroque violin); Malcolm Proud (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: MCD 9503 DDD
CPE Bach considered these six sonatas to be ‘among my father’s best works’. High praise indeed, but fully justified by the sonatas’ dazzling variety of form and expression. Written before 1725 and last revised in the 1740s, the sonatas are notable for the harpsichord’s promotion to an obbligato role – an experiment Bach takes even further at times, with violin playing ‘accompaniment’ and one movement given over to solo harpsichord. Formal elements are similarly varied, as are the feelings evoked, especially in a wonderful array of slow movements capped by the Sixth Sonata’s sublimely lyrical Cantabile, ma un poco adagio. (The recording presents this much-revised sonata in its third and final version, but also includes the Cantabile and Adagio from the second version.)

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Maya Homburger and Malcolm Proud, veterans of period instrument performance, are both members of the Chandos Baroque Players. Their rapport here is palpable, as is their love for a music they deliver with a captivating joy and swing. I retain my regard for the elegant Blumenstock/Butt set (Harmonia Mundi), but these delightful new performances offer a mix of virtuosity and brio that is simply irresistible. Graham Lock