For many people, Bach’s solo violin works are the most remarkable works he ever composed. Personally, I suspect the title could be narrowed down further to the Chaconne from the Partita No 2 in D Minor! In any case, the fact that a solitary string instrument must showcase Bach’s profound musical thinking while playing several lines of music simultaneously means that these pieces are an extraordinary challenge to perform, let alone perform well.
Rachel Barton Pine has been playing the music of Bach for most of her life, first encountering his music in St. Paul’s Church in Chicago. She gave her first performance, aged four, of Bach in this church, and played Bach in orchestral format there as well. She writes that she keeps the acoustics of the church in mind wherever she plays Bach, so it’s appropriate that it’s in that very same location that this disc was recorded.
Players tend to emphasise Bach’s music in one of two ways. They either accentuate the rigorous intellectual side, or the dance-like nature of many of these pieces. Pine splits the difference neatly and leans more to one side or the other depending on the piece. For example, she gives the Partita No 3 in E, BWV1006 an appealing sense of joie de vivre, but keeps the more contemplative sonatas and partitas in a calculated frame of mind. In a crowded market of alternative recordings, Pine’s sonatas and partitas are among the best I’ve heard recently. Well worthwhile!