Sergey Khachatryan

Bach: Sonatas & Partitas

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Any violinist with sufficient ambition is bound to take on the supreme challenge of Bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin. Not only are these works stunningly difficult to play, they are staggeringly difficult to interpret, so if the piece's multi-voice fugues don't get the performer, their unrelenting emotional intensity often will. Yet violinists still have to try or be found wanting, and Armenian violinist Sergey Khachatryan has taken on the sonatas and partitas in this 2008 two-disc set. Against long odds, he has triumphed. He certainly has the technique; any violinist who can tackle Sibelius' concerto, as Khachatryan has, can handle Bach's sonatas and partitas. What is more impressive is that he is also emotionally up to the challenge; not only does he deliver ebullience, enthusiasm, and energy in the C major Sonata and the E major Partita, but he delves deep into the dark night of the soul of the D minor Partita and expresses fear and dread touched with heart and hope. For some listeners, Khachatryan's tone may be too wiry and his attacks a bit too aggressive, but for others, these qualities are ideal for the music. The recording is amazingly, even frighteningly immediate. When Khachatryan breathes, some listeners might look up to see who's entered the room.

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