J.S. Bach: Violin Partitas/Faust

Review by: Jed Distler

Artistic Quality: 9

Sound Quality: 9

Isabelle Faust’s intimately scaled, vibratoless unaccompanied Bach may not immediately appeal to all tastes, yet the specificity, control, and utter conviction with which she conveys her approach adds up to a stimulating listening experience. Unlike the wan, mousy, threadbare fiddling certain artists deem appropriate for Bach, Faust’s tone always is firmly focused and dynamically variegated, and her intonation is consistently dead of center.

Time and again familiar movements emerge in fresh garb. For example, Faust’s subtle agogic elongations in the D minor Partita’s Corrente and the E major’s Gavotte en Rondeau generate tension and release without detracting from the steady pulse. While the D minor Chaconne’s steady, unifying tempo is brisk, nothing sounds rushed or glossed over on account of Faust’s multi-leveled articulation and awareness of bass lines either real or implied–and the rapid arpeggiated figurations take on a quiet, hauntingly ethereal quality that you’ll never forget once you hear it.

Faust’s fluid, conversational C major Sonata Fuga features effortless distinction between detached and legato phrases. In contrast to the feathery bravura Faust displays in the Sonata’s Allegro assai finale, the violinist downplays the E major Partita Preludio’s motoric thrust by shaping the phrases melodically. Hopefully Faust intends to record the remaining three Bach solo violin works; I look forward to hearing them, and rehearing this release often. [4/8/2010]



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Recording Details:

Reference Recording: Ehnes (Analekta), Milstein (DG)

J.S. BACH - Partita No. 2 in D minor BWV 1004; Sonata No. 3 in C major BWV 1005; Partita No. 3 in E major BWV 1006

  • Isabelle Faust (violin)

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