Arthur Grumiaux

J.S. Bach: Sonatas & Partitas

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How big is the violin Grumiaux's playing? Three feet? Six feet? A dozen feet? And how long is the bow Grumiaux's using? Four feet? Eight feet? Twenty feet? The answer is somewhere past beyond comprehension. In his 1960 recording of Bach's complete sonatas and partitas for solo violin, Grumiaux sounds like he's playing a violin roughly the size of a redwood with a bow roughly the size of all outdoors. Naturally, it takes enormous strength to wield such tools, and thankfully, Grumiaux has what it takes. No matter how superhuman Bach's demands, he never falters and always conquerors. Better yet, Grumiaux has the tremendous technique to handle such tools. His tone is majestic, his intonation is flawless, his phrasing is seamless, and his tempos are infectious. Best of all, Grumiaux has the breadth of heart, the depth of soul, and the height of spirit to interpret the works. From the black midnight of the D minor Partita's Chaconne to the bright daylight of the C major Sonata's Fugue, Grumiaux understands the stakes involved -- nothing less than damnation and redemption -- and is able to make great drama as well as great music out of it. Coupled with a pair of his 1967 recordings of Bach's accompanied sonatas performed with harpsichordist Egida Giordani Sartori, this set equals the greatest recordings ever made of any of the works and should be heard by anyone who loves the music. Philips' stereo sound was amazingly lifelike in its time, and it sounds even better in this expertly remastered 2006 reissue.

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