Giuliano Carmignola

Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonatas & Partitas BWV 1001-1006

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The graphics for this Deutsche Grammophon release bill it as the first period-instrument recording of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin, BWV 1001-1006, but it's not quite that simple. Veteran Italian violinist Giuliano Carmignola, hitherto known mostly for recordings of Italian Baroque music, has been taking on Bach's weighty violin masterpieces, and here he uses a 1733 Guarneri violin. This does not, of course, make it a period-instrument performance, for it is the other components that define the sound. The key equipment here is a set of bows by modern maker Emilio Slaviero, based on models by Nicolas Léonard Tourte, one of a pair of 18th century French brothers who, often working with the Italian violin virtuosi whose work formed the basis for Romantic violin technique, developed the forerunners of the modern bow. For many buyers, this will be enough incentive to check out Carmignola's set: his performance does not sound like any other. His tempi are flexible, and his performances have a bit of the ambition of the violin golden age, but with the reduced vibrato and the edgy accents of the historical performance movement. He is perhaps at his best in the monumental "Chaconne" that concludes the Partita No. 2 for solo violin in D minor, BWV 1004. In the other big movement from the set, the fugue from the Sonata No. 3 for solo violin in C major, BWV 1005, his interpretation is a bit shapeless, and he's not helped by cavernous sound from the 700-seat Gustav Mahler Saal at the Euregio Cultural Center in Toblach in the Italian Tyrol. Recommended for its fresh combination of modern and historically oriented traits.

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