Johann Sebastian Bach: Sonata and Partitas

Enrico Onofri violin
54:55
Passacaille 1025
BWV 1001, 1004, 1006

This CD presents three of the Sei Solo, refreshingly and elegantly played by Enrico Onofri at a=390 on an anonymous Italian violin of the early 18th century, using a copy by Luc Breton of an anonymous late 17th-century bow.

Not only are the layers of 19th-century varnish stripped away, but the fluidity of his nuanced playing, sensitive to the essentially dance-like nature of all the movements played, balances an almost throw-away articulation of the ornamental notes with a clear sense of the clean overall architecture of each movement. Lovers of the great romantic tradition of interpretation as exemplified by Joseph Joachim will be in for some surprises, but I found the singing articulation of movements like the Ciaccona in Partita 2 and the Preludio of Partita 3 absolutely captivating. He has studied Quantz’s detailed descriptions of German performance styles carefully, and worked on translating his advice about tonguing and shaping each note into his violin technique, so every phrase is carefully presented and articulated, with lovely understated inégales. He chooses a low pitch to match the Köthen Kammerton and this gives him greater clarity of articulation.All this creates a wonderful sonority.

I hope Onofrio overcomes his scruples and feels that he can record the other three of the Sei Solo  soon, as these are most beautifully played. What he has given us as outstanding musically as it is fascinating from a scholarly perspective.

David Stancliffe

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