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La Folia (Sebastian Bohren)

Sebastian Bohren (violin); CHAARTS Chamber Artists; Stringendo Zurich/Jens Lohmann (Avie)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

La Folia
Corelli: Violin Sonata in D minor, Op. 5 No. 12 ‘La folia’; Respighi: Pastorale in A; Tartini: Violin Sonata in G minor, ‘Devil’s Trill’; plus works for violin and strings by Kreisler, Paradis and Vitali
Sebastian Bohren (violin); CHAARTS Chamber Artists; Stringendo Zurich/Jens Lohmann
Avie AV2513   61:14 mins

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On Sebastian Bohren’s album La Folia, core 18th-century violin music assumes various guises in the hands of successive generations. We hear Arcangelo Corelli via Giuseppe Tartini, Fritz Kreisler and Hubert Léonard, as well as Tartini via Ottorino Respighi and Ingolf Turban. Other violinists lurk in the wings, such as Ferdinand David and Léopold Charlier. A further transformation occurs in the move from violin and keyboard to violin and string orchestra. Bohren collaborates with two young Swiss ensembles; CHAARTS Chamber Artists (heard on his 2021 Avie debut recording) and Stringendo Zürich.

Two Kreisler works frame the album. A strange edit in bar two mars the opening Pugnani homage, and despite Mariana Rudakevych’s transcription of the Corelli/Tartini variations, this work now sounds rather worn. In Corelli’s La Folia, Bohren’s tempo choices seem either rushed or quite ponderous, making for a disappointing eponymous track. However, the two Tartini sonatas are in another league. The canonic status of the so-called Devil’s Trill owes much to editions by violinists like Vieuxtemps, Alard, Joachim and Kreisler. Bohren’s presents an edition by Turban, his former teacher, which inspires spontaneity and real panache, particularly in the opening Andante. In Bohren’s
hands Respighi’s 1921 edition of Tartini’s Sonata in A is truly engaging, with gratifying attention to small-scale phrasing and sonorous scordatura timbres.

Bohren clearly revels in the violin’s ability to seamlessly spin long melodic lines, but this tonal repertoire necessitates a greater awareness of the delicious interplay of dissonance and consonance.

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Ingrid Pearson