Gidon Kremer

J.S. Bach: The Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo

  • AllMusic Rating
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

Never one to shy away from challenges, Gidon Kremer often confronts them in his recordings of new or unusual music, yet his expression is often under the cover of novelty, or shared with other players. In this 2005 recording of Bach's sonatas and partitas for violin solo, however, the challenges are all internal, as Kremer faces the music nakedly and directly, without recourse to cohorts, gimmicks, clever arrangements, or anything other than the notes on the page. This is, of course, the greatest challenge any musician faces in playing Bach's solo works, and Kremer's interaction with the music is certainly exposed, if not always to the listener's delight. Kremer's tone and expression are chimerical, unpredictable, and sometimes rawly emphasized, and it is sometimes hard to tell if he has deliberately marked out all his dynamics and bowings -- as if parsing all those running sixteenth notes into motives and cells -- or if he has merely left such decisions to the moment's inspiration and spontaneously poured himself out in wave after wave of short, hiccuping phrases and exaggerated gestures. It takes something of an analytical mind to appreciate the finely worked details and studied nuances in his performances; otherwise, listeners who like smoother interpretations will feel its bumpy ride all the way and find his playing more annoying than appealing. ECM's sound quality is topnotch.

blue highlight denotes track pick