Ruth Waterman

J.S. Bach: Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin BWV 1001-1006

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Many approaches have been taken in recording J.S. Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin. As many violinists have recorded them, there is at least a corresponding number of differing interpretations. This ensures that there's some version out there to appeal to just about every listener, but also means that finding that one great version can be quite a daunting task. In her 2010 Meridian recording, English-born violinist Ruth Waterman throws her hat into the ring. Waterman's playing is filled with contrasts. While such diversity can lead to an engaging, interesting performance, too much of it can become a distraction from the music itself. Unfortunately, Waterman seems to have crossed that line in this recording. Huge swings of tempo, dynamic, tone quality, and articulation pervade each and every movement. In many cases, listeners are even met with jarring changes within individual measures. The well-known Ciaconna from the D minor Partita begins as if it's going to be among the slowest, most methodical performances but suddenly changes to a furious pace so quick that individual notes become lost. At one moment, Waterman plays with a gentle, soft, delicate sound while the very next could be harsh, angular, and abrasive. Playing outside of the status quo is certainly welcome, but Waterman's rapidly changing character goes too far, too fast in the name of being different.

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