Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, BWV 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006

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LABELS: Hanssler
WORKS: Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin, BWV 1001, 1002, 1003, 1004, 1005, 1006
PERFORMER: Dmitry Sitkovetsky (violin)
Dmitry Sitkovetsky’s accounts of these pinnacles of the solo violin repertoire are imposing, in every sense of the word: his sound is robust and resonant (enhanced, none too flatteringly, by a close recorded balance), his technique awesome. From the grandiose opening of the G minor Sonata, a tone of high seriousness pervades throughout, though – paradoxically – I found these readings somewhat lacking in pathos. As if not wanting to undermine the gravitas of Bach’s music, Sitkovetsky is at times too measured, too self-consciously deliberate: in the first ‘double’ of the B minor Partita or the Allemanda of the D minor for instance; and the Correnti of both these works are unnecessarily motoric. It’s a pity, too, that in the Andante of the A minor Sonata, he doesn’t let Bach’s sublime melody roam more freely. But it is a measure of Sitkovetsky’s artistry that his playing is able to stand comparison with that of some of the great violinists of our time, not least in his formidable account of the monumental D minor Ciaconna. And in the major-key works Sitkovetsky really shines, offering a hypnotic reading of the C major Adagio, and a sparkling E major Prelude. For me, the classic recording of these works is the one by Arthur Grumiaux, made in the early Sixties. While it is technically more flawed, thc matchless elegance and poetry of Grumiaux’s playing, combined with his musical humility, are profoundly moving. Kate Bolton