Bach: Violin Sonatas, BWV 1015, 1016, 1017, 1020 & 1022

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: ASV Gaudeamus
WORKS: Violin Sonatas, BWV 1015, 1016, 1017, 1020 & 1022
PERFORMER: Jacqueline Ross (violin) David Ponsford (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: CD GAU 228
Recitals such as this one are less commonly found nowadays than once upon a time. In other words it eschews completism in favour of pieces assembled from a variety of different sources. Three sonatas from Bach’s set of six for violin and harpsichord provide the backbone of the programme and they are played with inflective grace and linear clarity by Jacqueline Ross, a young American now living in the UK, and David Ponsford, a pupil of Kenneth Gilbert and Gustav Leonhardt.

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The remaining sonatas are problematic and, though in one instance certainly containing material by Bach, are of doubtful authenticity. The F major Sonata (BWV 1022) contains a bass line found in a genuine Bach piece (BWV 1021), while the other, in G minor (BWV 1020), is probably by CPE Bach. This last-mentioned piece bears few if any of JS’s sophisticated stylistic traits, belonging fairly and squarely to the Berlin idiom of Quantz. Ross and Ponsford capture its galant style very well while making no definite claims on its content or pedigree. There is a directness about their playing, which reaches the heart of the music with less effort and baggage than some rival versions. This pays off especially well in the three great sonatas, whose performance contains more allure than those by Sigiswald Kuijken (BMG) or Andrew Manze (Harmonia Mundi). Nicholas Anderson