Jazz pianist Keith Jarrett has recorded Bach before, on both piano and harpsichord. His interpretations are not jazz versions of Bach but are played straight. In this case you might say relatively straight, for Bach's sonatas for violin and keyboard, BWV 1014-1019, were written for a harpsichord and are generally played that way; somehow the ear is jarred more by the piano here than in Bach's solo keyboard music (which Jarrett has also recorded). Jarrett fans will find the evidence of his characteristic style not in rhythmic inflections toward jazz but in his way of sustaining notes, which is never excessive.
Within 24 hours of hearing the violinist Joseph Szigeti playing Bach, Ysaÿe had made sketches for his own six solo Violin Sonatas, which constitute his single most substantial and remarkable work, drawing together influences as diverse as Gregorian chant, Spanish and Walloon folk music, French impressionism and, of course, Bach himself. These are virtuoso showpieces, but, as Philippe Graffin demonstrates, there is much in them that is yielding and gentle, such as the stately Sarabandes fromthe Second and Fourth Sonatas (the latter is dedicated to Fritz Kreisler) and the radiant evocation of dawn in the Fifth Sonata. Graffin adroitly negotiates these technical and expressive demands, and if there is an occasional lapse in clarity, it is compensated for by a compelling vitality.
Having all of these works collected together is a real treasure. It is one of the most beautiful collections I've heard. 5 cd's of all of Bach's chamber music, exquisitely performed by the outstanding soloists of Musica Antiqua Koln. Reinhard Goebel's performance of the violin works is simply perfect. As I've said before, Bach's sonatas for violin and harpsichord have been in the shadows for too long, they deserve to be heard and this performance proves it. They are a delightful partnership between violin and harpsichord. The tempos are fairly brisk but the performance is so clearly articulated that the result is energetic and very rewarding.
Born in London, Ontario, Lara St. John was a child prodigy on the violin at the age of two, and went on her first European tour at the age of ten! At age thirteen she skipped from the eighth grade to a B.A. program at the Curtis Institute of Music. She plays a priceless 1779 Guadagnini violin. Her compelling personality and insightful performances have stimulated interest in classical music in a wide audience that seldom listened to it before. She scandalized some of the old school for appearing scantily clad on a couple of album covers, but she is completely authentic: a great violinist, whatever she is or is not wearing. As one critic wrote, she "has nothing to hide"–her musicality is first class. Lara St. John's brilliant musicianship, striking looks, and vivid personality have made her an authentic classical superstar. Recorded at Skywalker Sound in Super Audio and available in Hybrid.
Andrew Manze has been called "the Grappelli of the Baroque violin" because of the improvisatory liveliness of his approach; however, he can just as easily change personalities. Sometimes he pads along with sinewy grace like a panther ready to spring (the Preludio to BWV 1023, for example), sometimes he goes for a much more relaxed cantabile line, and sometimes he plays with a sparkling and infectious sense of fun (Presto, BWV 1021).
Rossini himself described these works as «six dreadful sonatas, composed by me on holiday at the home (near Ravenna) of my Maecenas friend Agostino Triossi when I was at a most infantile age, not even having taken a lesson in accompaniment.» Written at the age of twelve, as if only for the pleasure of it, in only three days with an ease reminiscent of Mozart, these compositions exude an entrancing, naive freshness.