Bach: Sonatas and Partitas BWV1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: Erato
WORKS: Sonatas and Partitas BWV1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006
PERFORMER: Oleg Kagan (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: 2292-45805-2 ADD/DDD
This is the great swansong (or one of them, for there is more to be released) of Oleg Kagan, pupil and colleague of David Oistrakh, dedicatee of Schnittke, husband of cellist Natalia Gutman and, for 20 years, recital partner of Sviatoslav Richter. This live recording, from the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, was made in 1989, the year Kagan died from cancer at the age of 43. Time was running out, yet he plays these Sonatas and Partitas as if there were all the time in the world.

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Totally devoid of mannerism or cliché, the Adagio of the first Sonata stretches out into the harmonic distance in the clear, bright air of his fine sequences and diamond-cut double-stopping. There are moments when the bow merely breathes across the strings, as in the Siciliano, or the second Sonata’s Andante; moments, too, in the second Partita’s Gigue, when it barely touches them at all.

There are so many secrets to be discovered in this unique set: a Courante which skips higher than any, and extraordinary filigree spun at the heart of a Chaconne.

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The order of performance is not that of Bach’s autograph score: here, starting with the first Sonata in G minor, the pieces reach upwards, a fifth apart, in a chain of harmonic resonance, to the final solemn and exultant C major Sonata. Hilary Finch