Bach: Six Sonatas for violin and piano

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COMPOSERS: JS Bach
LABELS: ECM
ALBUM TITLE: Bach: Six Sonatas for violin and piano
WORKS: Six Sonatas for violin and piano
PERFORMER: Michelle Makarski (violin), Keith Jarrett (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: 4764582

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Michelle Makarski began seriously exploring these Sonatas about five years ago, inviting Keith Jarrett to join her in playing them for their own pleasure. They decided to preserve their performances and made these recordings in November 2010.

Jarrett is best known as a jazz pianist, but he began with classical music, giving his first solo recital (which included some Bach pieces) before his eighth birthday. He has previously recorded several Bach works, usually opting for harpsichord: this is only the second time he has recorded Bach on piano. Appropriately, these interpretations are stately and Classical in feel yet lively and incisive.

For these works Bach created fully-formed keyboard parts rather than the continuo ‘suggestions’ of the (probably later) violin and keyboard Sonatas BWV 1021 & 1023, and they are no mere accompaniments. While both performers have strong musical personalities, they achieve an apt democratic balance between the violin and piano parts, although occasionally the recording seems to favour Jarrett over Makarski’s full yet refined tone. Both musicians give impeccable technical performances and, while there is no shortage of recordings of these Sonatas, Jarrett and Makarski’s interpretations add something individual.

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Barry Witherden