Solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas
Fabio Biondi (violin)
Naive V7261 132:02 mins (2 discs)
Those of us who have been waiting for Fabio Biondi to set down his thoughts on these timeless scores were recently offered a tantalising glimpse via a filmed recording of BWV 1002-1004. Now we have the entire set, recorded in June last year, captured in alluringly detailed sound, set against a warm ambient glow.
One is immediately struck by Biondi’s trademark tonal opulence, warmth, cantabile phrasing and gently vibratoed intensity, virtually unique among players on period instruments. Although he microcosmically inflects dynamics and articulation with sleight-of-hand suppleness, one is engaged more by where the music is going than what is actually happening at any given moment. The resulting sense of structural and expressive imperative carries the listener effortlessly onwards, so that Biondi’s sensitive rethinking of repeated generic patterns becomes a natural part of the musical continuum rather than a passing distraction.
Often one feels a strong distinction between the musical absolutism of the sonatas and the partitas’ dancing impetus, yet such is the humanity, naturalness and continuity of Biondi’s expressive responses that they feel like inseparable stylistic bedfellows. For those of us with sensitivity to modern pitch and key colour, it is also a relief to report that Biondi plays just a fraction below modern pitch rather than the full semitone that can alter the music’s entire tonal character.