Monica Huggett

Bach: Sonatas & Partitas

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Monica Huggett's recording of the complete Bach Solo Partitas & Sonatas is a difficult one to peg, and listeners are likely to have widely differing opinions depending on what their priorities are in a good Bach recording. The strong points in Huggett's recording are plentiful. For starters, her sound quality is magnificently pure and unforced. Throughout the two-disc set, there's not even a hint of her Amati violin being pushed too hard, nor any chord being crunched. As a student of Baroque violin, Huggett infuses her playing with nuances of sound, articulation, and bow speed appropriate to period performance practice. Intonation is equally exceptional to a degree not often found in even the most popular recordings of these works. What some listeners may find as a downside is Huggett's sense of pacing. She makes frequent alterations to the tempo of each movement, often interrupting phrases in an attempt to highlight particular musical ideas. However, these interruptions are too extreme and too frequent and the result is generally a lack of a consistent musical line. The fugues of the three sonatas, for example, are very disjoined as Huggett overemphasizes the shift of the subject between registers. Still, her technique is quite dazzling, and in instances where she allows her phrases to flow without interruption (as in the Corrente of the Second Partita) her interpretation can be quite satisfying, though inconsistent.

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