Wolfgang Marschner’s Solo Bach

Review by: Jed Distler


Artistic Quality: 7

Sound Quality: 9

American collectors may have encountered violinist and composer Wolfgang Marschner (1926-2020) via his live Berg Chamber Concerto with Paul Hindemith conducting (Orfeo), or in the Schoenberg Violin Concerto conducted by Michael Gielen (Vox). His 1972 Bach Sonatas and Partitas on the German Christophorus label used to command ridiculous high prices from second-hand dealers for clean or mint copies of the original boxed set of three LPs. From a sonic standpoint, I can hear why, for I’ve rarely encountered such resonant warmth from a solo violin recording.

It’s hard to pinpoint Marschner’s interpretations. Certain movements follow the dour, austere Bach interpretation playbook, such as in the heavy, downbeat-oriented fugues or via his square and unyielding Bourée from the B minor Partita. On the other hand, Marschner imparts appropriate lightness and lilt throughout most of the E major Partita. He does his finest work in the imposing D minor Chaconne. Here Marschner’s attractive, full-bodied sound comes into its own, as the violinist navigates the score’s peaks and valleys with palpable harmonic tension, structural unity, and narrative sweep, where every note comes to life. While Marschner’s Bach generally warrants more respect than love, his remarkable Chaconne is worth the price of this release. At least now you can hear it without having to shell out $800 for the LPs!

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Recording Details:

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

  • Wolfgang Marschner (violin)

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