Bach, Bart—k, Hartmann

COMPOSERS: Bach,Bartok,Hartmann
LABELS: Altara
ALBUM TITLE: Solo violin works
WORKS: Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004; Solo Violin Sonata; Solo Violin Suite No. 1
PERFORMER: Viviane Hagner (violin)
CATALOGUE NO: ALT 1016
Bartók’s Sonata presents some of the most technically stretching music written for solo violin. Viviane Hagner is completely in control from the start, with pinpoint accuracy of intonation and an intensity which is subtly varied, but never relaxes. In the fiendish fugue, the parts are clearly differentiated with a variety of attack, and it’s only in the Melodia third movement that players of the old school – André Gertler (on Hungaroton) and Ivry Gitlis (on Vox), for instance – find a simpler and more affectionate mood. Among modern versions, Isabelle Faust’s is on a level with Hagner’s, with timing as impeccable, though it’s a slightly lighter approach.

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In the Hartmann, Hagner has the field to herself. Potentially it’s a drier work than the Bartók, and closer to Baroque models in its contrapuntal textures. But Hagner again plays it for all it’s worth, with a sense of rubato and phrasing that doesn’t allow the pulse to flag, and she gives the wide-ranging melodic lines an ecstatic quality that could so easily slip through the fingers.

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As for the Bach, it’s an oldfashioned performance, with the rubato smooth, and even and sustained tone. Period instrument performances have made us used to more extreme varieties of articulation and timbre, but Hagner is firmly in the line of, say, Sándor Végh, though her technical control is even greater. Come to the final Chaconne, there could be more of a sense of struggle, but the dance movements really do dance, and, as throughout the disc, Hagner’s sound develops in a natural and pleasing acoustic. Martin Cotton