JS Bach’s Solo violin sonatas & partitas performed by Kyung Wha Chung

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

LABELS: Warner
WORKS: Solo violin sonatas & partitas
PERFORMER: Kyung Wha Chung (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: 9029594416


Kyung Wha Chung has always demonstrated her enthusiasm for an eclectic repertoire, embracing Bach, Stravinsky, Vieuxtemps and Walton as well as the great violin concertos of Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Brahms. Her recording of Bach’s partitas and sonatas for solo violin seem to my ears an unusual dichotomy between deep expressive involvement on the one hand and emotional detachment on the other. While the G minor Sonata and B minor Partita are elegantly played they are expressively cool. I sensed a greater personal engagement in the A minor Sonata, but it is with the D minor Partita that Kyung Wha Chung finally demonstrates a deep engagement with Bach’s music. The Allemande is eloquently poised and unhurried while the great Ciaccona unfolds at a pace which allows this fine artist to communicate its poetry.

The Sonata in C major and the E major Partita both come over convincingly. The Sonata’s opening Adagio is poised, introspective and poignant while the Fuga with its myriad polyphonic subtleties provides a dazzling opportunity for this artist to demonstrate her many strengths. Just occasionally in this movement and in the preceding Adagio there are small lapses in intonation, but overall, these two works, together with the D minor Partita, make a favourable impression not least for the self-effacing manner in which she avoids imposing any exaggerated or empty gestures upon the music. The recording captures the warmth of Chung’s tone and her delicately expressed, lightly bowed playing is engaging.


Nicholas Anderson