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Kavakos in a transcendent account of Bach’s set of six solo violin works – Seen and Heard Worldwide




United KingdomUnited Kingdom JS Bach: Leonidas Kavakos (violin). Barbican Corridor, London, 2 and three.5.2024. (CSa)

Leonidas Kavakos © Mark Allan

Half 1 (2.5.2024)

JS Bach – Violin Sonata No.2 in A minor; Violin Partita No.3 in E main; Violin Sonata No.3 in C main

Half 2 (3.5.2024)

JS Bach – Violin Sonata No.1 in G minor; Violin Partita No.1 in B minor; Violin Partita No.2 in D minor

Bach’s autographed manuscript of his set of Six Unaccompanied Violin Sonatas and Partitas, commenced shortly after the loss of life of his first spouse in 1720, is inscribed with the Italian phrases Sei solo. Bach, who cherished linguistic in addition to musical puzzles, selected – maybe intentionally – an ambiguous title able to two meanings: ‘six solos’ or ‘you’re alone’. This set of works for a single violin, by advantage of its mental rigour and instrumental financial system can induce a way of solitary introspection within the listener and make one really feel just a little lonely. But, regardless of the austerity of supplies employed, Bach seeks to speak an enormous universe of feelings crammed with love, grief, comfort, dance, unhappiness and pleasure. Definitely, the legendary violinist Leonidas Kavakos minimize an remoted and considerably uncovered determine as he stood underneath a single highlight on the naked Barbican Corridor stage, ‘Willemotte’ Strad c.1735 in hand.

Placing to 1 aspect the immense technical and bodily challenges required, the best problem confronted by any performer is to open up an primarily personal dialog and talk the introspective qualities of those compositions to each member of the viewers. In a technically superlative efficiency unfold over two evenings, the indefatigable and unerringly modest Kavakos established a singular reference to everybody within the corridor which, remarkably, included a lot of youngsters and youngsters – and held them spellbound all through.

Kavakos began Half 1 of his recital with Sonata No.2 in A minor. The sonata’s stately and declarative first motion Grave was fantastically phrased and minimally adorned. A playful Fuga adopted, seamlessly transitioning right into a gently pulsating Andante and ending with an Allegro of outstanding readability. In a change of order from the printed programme. Partita No.3 in E main got here subsequent. Chockful of rhythmic, elegant dances, it included a richly toned Lure, two energetic Menuets, a gently embellished Gavotte en rondeau and an intensely joyful Bourrée and Gigue.

The second half of the night was dedicated to Violin Sonata No.3 in C main, every motion skilfully formed and nuanced, and culminating in a stunningly expressive Allegro assai. A standing ovation was rewarded with an encore, a daring and resonant account of the Tempo di Borea from the Partita No.1 in B minor.

The following night time’s live performance proved to be yet one more charming demonstration of this selfless artist’s expertise. Starting with Sonata No.1 in G minor, Kavakos alternated the tensions of the solemn Adagio with moments of rest, whereas the intricacies of the ultimate motion Presto had been dispatched in a blaze of virtuosic wizardry. Turning as soon as once more to the Partita 1 in B minor from which the earlier night’s encore had been chosen, Kavakos gave us a heartbreakingly tender Sarabande, and an enthralling fourth motion Double (Presto) – a show of pyrotechnic precision and pace which ignited a spontaneous ripple of applause.

After the interval got here the ultimate work within the set: Violin Partita No.2 in D minor, which absolutely represents the head of those mountainous six solo works. Kavakos performed with uncommon depth, his flawless method making gentle of the work’s advanced runs, arpeggios and triple stops. He introduced tenderness and heat to the opening Allemande, excellent stability and management to the foot-tapping Corrente, a luxuriant serenity to the third motion Sarabanda and an irrepressible ebullience to the Giga. The concluding Ciaccona, which stretched for over 16 minutes, was an exquisitely rendered and deeply transferring expertise. With out dropping sight of the general drama of this motion, Kavakos invested every phrase with delicate shading, in order that even the smallest tonal iNFLections impacted on and enhanced the entire. As the ultimate observe resounded after which slowly melted away, Kavakos paused, bow aloft, and stood nonetheless for nearly a minute, whereas very member of the viewers, from the youngest to the oldest, alone and but emotionally related by a transcendent musical occasion, sat mesmerised in contemplative silence.

Chris Sallon