JS Bach: Solo Violin Sonatas & Partitas

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

WORKS: Solo Violin Sonatas & Partitas
PERFORMER: Pavlo Beznosiuk (violin)

Pavlo Beznosiuk’s name is in many ways synonymous with the excellent discs with which he and his ensemble have rehabilitated the musical reputation of the 18th-century Newcastle composer, Charles Avison. Now he appears as soloist in the greatest technical and emotional challenge facing a violinist. Bach’s six solos for unaccompanied violin are divided into three each of Sonatas and Partitas. The Sonatas ostensibly avoid dance movements and outwardly conform with the Italian da chiesa four-movement scheme, while the Partitas are dance suites.
Beznosiuk enters the ring to face formidable competition from Sigiswald Kuijken, Viktoria Mullova, Julia Fischer and Isabelle Faust among the front-runners. What these players share in common is an ability to enliven Bach’s music without resorting to exaggerated gesture, aggressive attack and anything in the nature of over-demonstrative virtuosity. Gone are the days, thankfully, when players attacked the D minor Chaconne as if it were an enemy to be conquered with as much violence as was deemed necessary for total subjugation.
Beznosiuk plays this noble movement reflectively and with gracefully turned phrasing. If we do not sense the colossal architectural foundation of this movement and indeed of the Fuga of the C major Sonata to quite the same extent as in Kuijken’s second recording (DHM), we can revel in Beznosiuk’s warmer sound and gentler gestures. There is a degree of self-effacement and self-absorption in his playing that I find appealing: it’s as though we are eavesdropping on an intimate and private dialogue. Intonation is not invariably as secure as that of Mullova (on Onyx) or Fischer (PentaTone) but it is never so wayward as to cause unwarranted distraction. A fine set, beautifully recorded. Nicholas Anderson