The violinist discusses tackling Bach`s Sonatas and Partitas
The Bach Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are not only a summit of the violin repertoire, but they have been recorded many times. Did you have to persuade Hyperion to bring out another version?
No, it's all about mutual decisions with them. And we were careful not to do it too early. So I had enough time to get them into my bones.
Had you played them much in the past?
Some l've played for longer than others. The G minor and the D minor I started working on when I was a teenager; others l'm relatively new to.
Did the process of recording them for posterity make you feel pressured to record your definitive interpretations?
I couldn't, they don't stay the same. As you change as a person, they seem to change alongside you. Even now, having only just made this recording, there are some l'd play somewhat differently. I don't really see recording as a document of any kind in that sense. It simply catches what happened during those days of recording and the experiments we made during that time. The approach can actually change overnight. With me, it's more about how I feel at the moment of playing. Of course there is planning and I still have to keep in mind what makes sense for the work as a whole, but it is still very spontaneous.
Steven Isserlis always keeps in mind that the Cello Suites are dance works. Do you find dance in the Sonatas and Partitas?
There are many dance elements. Not as many as there are in the Cello Suites. But generally with Baroque music there are dance elements even in music not designed to be danced to. You always have to bear in mind the strongerweaker beat. It has a lot to do with a dialogue between voices, almost like a conversation. It's not that one voice wins out, but the conversation is the fascinating thing.
Gramophone, November 2009
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