Gidon Kremer offers a powerful and haunting vision of Bach's Partitas.
Gidon Kremer, born, in 1947 in Riga, has followed an original career path as a violinist. A student of David Oistrakh at the Moscow Conservatory, and awarded 1st prize at the Queen Elisabeth competition at the age of 20, he could have taken the fast track to success. Instead of that he decided to champion the music of the 20th century and of contemporary composers such as Kancheli, Pärt, Schnittke and Gubaidulina.
But as is the case for any self-respecting violinist, the works for solo violin by Johann Sebastian Bach, the be-all and end-all of works for the instrument, are a rite of passage. We see him in 2001 in a Baroque church in Lockenhaus, the festival he founded in Austria, performing the three partitas. Kremer had recorded these pieces twenty-five years ago (with Melodya) but hadn't recorded anything else until this live recording in Lockenhaus.
Contrary to many of his fellow musicians, the Baltic violinist offers us a powerful, lively and almost sanguine Bach. A very personal vision that leaves no one indifferent.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Partitas for Solo Violin
♪ Partita No.1 in B minor, BWV 1002 (1720)
i. Allemanda – Double
ii. Corrente – Double (Presto)
iii. Sarabande – Double
iv. Tempo di Borea – Double
♪ Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004 (1717-1723)
♪ Partita No.3 in E major, BWV 1006 (1720)
iii. Gavotte en rondeau
iv. Menuet I
v. Menuet II
Gidon Kremer, violin
Austria, Vienna, Lockenhaus Festival, St Nikolaus Church, September 2001
Uploaded on Youtube for the Blog "Faces of Classical Music"
First publication: November 23, 2013 – Last update: September 5, 2018
The Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin (BWV 1001-1006) are a set of six works composed by Johann Sebastian Bach. They are sometimes referred to in English as the sonatas and partias for solo violin in accordance with Bach's headings in the autograph manuscript: "Partia" (plural "Partien") was commonly used in German-speaking regions during Bach's time, whereas the Italian "partita" was introduced to this set in the 1879 Bach Gesellschaft edition, having become standard by that time. The set consists of three sonatas da chiesa in four movements and three partitas (or partias) in dance-form movements.
The set was completed by 1720 but was not published until 1802 by Nikolaus Simrock in Bonn. Even after publication, it was largely ignored until the celebrated violinist Joseph Joachim started performing these works. Today, Bach's Sonatas and Partitas are an essential part of the violin repertoire, and they are frequently performed and recorded.
The Sei solo a violino senza basso accompagnato (Six solos for violin without bass accompaniment), as Bach titled them, firmly established the technical capability of the violin as a solo instrument. The pieces often served as archetypes for solo violin pieces by later generations of composers, including Eugène Ysaÿe and Béla Bartók.
Correct Italian would be "sei soli". Some believe the literal meaning of the title's "sei solo" is an intentional reference to the recent sudden death of his wife. This theory is popular among musicians but not among Bach scholars, though the exceptional indication of the year of completion on the title page does seem to indicate a payment of homage to his wife.
The Partita No.1 in B minor, BWV 1002, is a piece for solo violin composed by 1720. This partita is formed in the traditional way that consists of an allemande, a courante, sarabande and gigue in the baroque style, except that this work substitutes a bourrée (marked Tempo di Borea) for the more typical gigue. Also, each movement is followed by a variation called double in French, which elaborates on the bass-line of the prior movement.
The Partita No.2 in D minor for solo violin, BWV 1004, was written between 1717 and 1720. The movements correspond to the dances of the time, and they are frequently listed by their French names: Allemande, Courante, Sarabande, Gigue, and Chaconne. The final movement is written in the form of variations, and lasts approximately as long as the first four movements combined. Performance time of the whole partita varies between 26 and 32 minutes, depending on the approach and style of the performer.
The Partita No.3 in E major for solo violin, BWV 1006, is the last work in the set of Six Sonatas and Partitas. It takes about 20 minutes to perform.
Gidon Kremer: Back to Bach (2006) – A film by Daniel Finkernagel & Alexander Lück (HD 1080p)