JS Bach: 'Testament'

By Gill, Caroline | Gramophone, June 2016 | Go to article overview

JS Bach: 'Testament'


Gill, Caroline, Gramophone


JS Bach

'Testament'

Solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas, BWV1001-1006

Rachel Barton Pine vn

Avie (M)(2) AV2360 (126' * DDD)

Alarm bells always start to ring when the cover of a performance of solo Bach gives the disc a moniker and prints it--and the name of the performer--in letters so large that the words 'JS Bach' at the bottom of the cover can do nothing but look like an afterthought. So it is a happy relief to find that the performance behind the cover of Rachel Barton Pine's 'Testament' is one of the best of this set of peerless works to have been released since Isabelle Faust's definitive volumes of 2010 and 2012.

Although Pine's performance is fundamentally different to Faust's, it does display a similar quiet lack of egotism that doesn't manipulate the listener into any conclusions. That is not to say that there is no sense of Pine's own interpretation here, nor that it is a bland performance: there is a surprisingly striking contrast between its crystalline voicing, clear articulation and warm tone that makes the listener feel that it is concerned with the plain and simple beauty of the music as much as with the genius of its counterpoint and relationships between movements.

All this is further supported by the sensible combination of Baroque bow and metal strings on a period instrument in modern set-up--the tuning is unfailingly accurate and the strength of the bowing means there is never any interference with the musical line by a squeak or break. …

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