WORKS: Solo Violin Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002; Solo Violin Partita No. 3 in E, BWV 1006; Solo Violin Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003
PERFORMER: Ilya Gringolts (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: 474 235-2
The opening Allemande of the First Partita tells you exactly what Ilya Gringolts’s approach will be – light, dancing and technically fluent – and the lessons of period performance are plain here, even though he plays on an instrument set up in the modern way. Double stops are all impeccably in tune, and thrown off with ease, rather than dug into to make a harmonic point. But phrasing is short term, rather than concerned with the longer line – fine in faster music like the double to the Corrente in the First Partita, but less happy in the Sarabande, where the lack of a sustained legato robs the music of its dignity. And it’s in the sense of line and continuity where classic accounts score: Grumiaux in the Sixties, with his purity of intonation and rhythmic alertness, or Milstein in the Fifties, silky toned and aristocratic; both found more poetry in the music.
The more abstract Sonata suits Gringolts’s temperament better, and he seems to have more of a view of the bigger picture. In the build-up of the Fugue, and the more flexible rubato and sense of line in the Andante, where his veiled tone and control of balance between the melody and accompaniment are very fetching, he finds more of the inner Bach. But, back in the Third Partita, the Preludio and Gavotte en rondeau are almost indecently fast, though there are nice touches of humour in some throwaway phrasing in the two Minuets. Mind you, I’d rather have that than the over-reverent approach of Hilary Hahn (Sony), but the truth lies on a higher level. Martin Cotton