Michael Barenboim performs violin sonatas by JS Bach, Bartók and Boulez

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COMPOSERS: Bartok,Boulez,JS Bach
LABELS: Accentus Music
ALBUM TITLE: JS Bach * Bartók * Boulez
WORKS: JS Bach: Solo Sonata No. 3 in C, BWV1005; Bartók: Solo Violin Sonata; Boulez: Anthèmes I & II
PERFORMER: Michael Barenboim (violin)


It may just be a wooden box with four strings, but what a world of sounds the violin can create! This cleverly arranged CD is bookended with Boulez’s Anthèmes I and II, showing the possibilities of the instrument on its own, and with electronics. Apart from the extensive range of technique that Michael Barenboim effortlessly realises, the confidence and maturity of the musical language is stunning, and often harmonically and texturally beautiful.

Fifty years earlier, Bartók also summed up many of his compositional pre-occupations in his solo Sonata. This is a big performance, amplified by the resonance in the recorded sound – too much in the louder passages – and the opening Chaconne has rhythmic momentum and a sure sense of phrasing, although the fugue tends towards coarseness of tone in its almost impossible contrapuntal demands. In the ‘Melodia’ though, Barenboim finds the lyrical heart, with wide-ranging tone, and the finale scurries and dances with energy.

Barenboim doesn’t always seem as sympathetic to the Bach: the Adagio is not fully imaginative in rhythm and tone, and the fugue, as in the Bartók, is rather hard-pressed. Best is the final Allegro, where there is a freedom which is elusive in the rest of the Sonata.


Martin Cotton