Conceived like a solo recital, Michael Barenboim's first solo album features the works of three composers that have had a profound impact on his musical upbringing. On paper, these pieces could not seem any more different, but together they create an unexpectedly astonishing listening experience. J. S. Bach’s Sonata No. 3 for solo violin demands the greatest artistic and technical skills of the violinist and yet its melodic simplicity remains unmatched in its beauty. Béla Bartók’s Sonata Sz.117 was clearly inspired by Bach’s works for solo violin, carrying Bach’s ideas into the music of the 20th century. Filled with contrasts and yet bearing a uniquely poetic aura, the work is equally demanding for the violinist - if not moreRead more so - as the Bach. Finally, in his "Anthèmes", Pierre Boulez explores the boundaries of what can actually be played on the violin. The abstractness of Boulez's "Anthèmes 1" is surpassed by "Anthèmes 2", where live electronic elements that Boulez helped to develop at the IRCAM studios in Paris are added into the music. These two works create an entirely new sonic experience that serves as a musical frame for this exceptionally unique and extraordinary recording.
His performances, flawlessly reproduced, are utterly persuasive and compelling.
– The Strad
This is indisputably exciting playing across an indisputably effective program.
Both versions [Anthèmes 1 and 2] get high-voltage performances from Barenboim, and his accounts of Bartók’s immense and immensely difficult Sonata and the third of Bach’s solo sonatas that come between them have the same crackling intensity.
– Guardian (U.K.)
Barenboim’s ripe-toned playing is as meticulous, spontaneous and concentrated as his lineage suggests.