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Bach: Sei Solo A Violino, Vol. 2

Bach,J.s. / Fernandez
Release Date: 10/09/2012 
Label:  Flora   Catalog #: 403   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  François Fernandez
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 8 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



BACH Solo Violin Partitas: No. 2 in d, BWV 1004; No. 3 in E, BWV 1006. Solo Violin Sonata No. 3 in C, BWV 1005 François Fernandez (vn) (period instrument) FLORA 0403 (67:53)


What’s a period-instrument timbre? François Fernandez plays his second volume of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin on a 1690 Andrea Guarneri Read more violin with a timbre that might be described as round and flute-like rather than angular and reedy. This sonority informs everything Fernandez sets out to do in the works, beginning with the Allemande of the Second Partita, which sounds particularly ingratiating in his reading. He punctuates phrases in the manner recommended by pedagogue Carl Flesch, but not aggressively, and barely interrupting the movement’s logical flow; Fernandez—or the instrument—has also sandpapered the Corrente’s jagged edges. The Sarabande reveals the beauty of the violin’s (and the violinist’s) lower registers, echoed in the reverberant ambiance of the Basse-Bodeux church in Belgium. The violinist finds plenty of opportunities for antiphonal interchange (and an entertaining and, at times, illuminating variety of articulations) in the Giga. The Chaconne, at 13:08, tends toward the fast side (as did the Giga, which therefore almost serves to set it up), but Fernandez declaims the theme at a stately tempo and plays the first variations soberly if piquantly. He brings the simplest passages to life with abundant nuance, so that, with his obvious apprehension of overarching patterns, his performance doesn’t permit a listener’s attention to wander, either short- or long-term. He never resorts to tricky bowings (many violinists break the patterns in the middle of beats) to maintain interest during the arpeggiated chords, even though these cover long stretches. At times when he could easily grind out the double-stops in ecstatic splendor, he employs more separated styles of bowing that peel away layers of accumulated performance prejudices.


Fernandez adopts a more reflective, and a texturally more opulent, approach to the Second Sonata’s Adagio but scales back a bit for the statement of the fugue’s subject, portentous and long-breathed though it is. The recording includes both the Second Partita and the Third Sonata, works comprising the set’s stoutest pillars—the Chaconne and this fugue—and Fernandez provides insightful, if not quite revelatory, accounts of both, in the fugue, effectively combining exuberance with solemnity. His sedate tempo in the Largo accommodates his somewhat exploratory manner—making the piece now almost an aria and now almost an improvisation. The finale, another of Bach’s concerto-like movements for solo violin (like, for example, the finale of the A-Minor Partita) fits in well with his reading of the entire work rather than seeming like a disconnected special effort at a brilliant finale. Still, Fernandez employs off-the-string bowings to give it a soloistic sparkle that it would almost certainly lack with the bow remaining consistently closer to the string.


Fernandez also takes the bow off the string in the Preludio to the Third Partita, an oft-performed showpiece sometimes detached from its original context. Although his tempo remains judicious, he maintains interest with his variety of bowings and consequent scattered accents. His piquancy in the Loure keeps it from sagging at its center and keeps this longest of the Partita’s movements dancing throughout. Years of listening to violin music might have blunted appreciation of the Gavotte en Rondeau, were it not for perky performances like Fernandez’s to keep it youthful in the imagination—and he brings it to a conclusion with some zesty ornamentation that extends into the two succeeding Minuets. He enlivens the Bourée and Gigue with bracing tempos and crisp articulation.


Fernandez, like other commanding practitioners of historically informed performance, hardly follows a doctrinaire approach to timbres, and his flexibility results in a reading of Bach’s works for violin that walks the line between both camps—aficionados of the more recent past (modern instruments) and the more distant (period instruments) one. Generally, and enthusiastically, recommended.


FANFARE: Robert Maxham
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Works on This Recording

1.
Partita for Violin solo no 2 in D minor, BWV 1004 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  François Fernandez (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2002 
Venue:  L'Église de Basse-Bodeux, Belgique 
Length: 27 Minutes 21 Secs. 
2.
Sonata for Violin solo no 2 in A minor, BWV 1003 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  François Fernandez (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2002 
Venue:  L'Église de Basse-Bodeux, Belgique 
Length: 22 Minutes 33 Secs. 
3.
Partita for Violin solo no 3 in E major, BWV 1006 by Johann Sebastian Bach
Performer:  François Fernandez (Violin)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1720; Cöthen, Germany 
Date of Recording: 07/2002 
Venue:  L'Église de Basse-Bodeux, Belgique 
Length: 15 Minutes 51 Secs. 

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