MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around 2024
60,000 reviews
... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             


Some items
to consider

new MWI
Current reviews

old MWI
pre-2023 reviews

paid for

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews

Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

All Troubadisc reviews

FOGHORN Classics

Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews

All HDTT reviews

Songs to Harp from
the Old and New World

all Nimbus reviews

all tudor reviews

Follow us on Twitter

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

Classicsonline  Crotchet 


Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001 [17:19]
Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002 [30:40]
Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003 [25:19]
Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004 [30:32]
Sonata No. 3 in C major, BWV 1005 [24:32]
Partita No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006 [19:34]
Ilya Kaler (violin)
rec. St John Chrysostom Church, Newmarket, Canada, 19-22 July 2006 (Sonatas); 1-4 February 2007 (Partitas). DDD
NAXOS 8.570277-78 [73:29 + 74:55]
Experience Classicsonline

Is this the most astonishing music ever composed? I sometimes think that if I could choose some music to represent the most that the human race is capable of achieving then it would be the jaw-dropping works on these discs. Do I exaggerate? See below …
Bach’s works for solo violin are breathtaking in terms of virtuosity and technical accomplishment, but predominantly in the sound he is capable of conjuring from the violin. Each movement has a flowing sense of line and a clear melody, but what is most astonishing is the way he creates the illusion of harmony and base-line coming from one instrument that is only capable of playing two notes at once. It genuinely does not feel like you are listening to only one instrument. This is most exceptional in the second movement in each sonata, where Bach produces a fully realised Fugue. The most famous movement is also the longest: the Chaconne from the Second Partita. Theories surrounding it differ widely: some say it represents Christ’s journey to the cross, while others suggest it as a profound funeral meditation for Bach’s first wife. Whatever you think, this movement alone will leave you breathless.
It is the Everest of the violin repertoire and has attracted the best of performers, such as Grumiaux, Milstein and Perlman. This new set from Ilya Kaler doesn’t quite live up to them, but he stands up for himself well. Kalyer plays a modern instrument. Contrast this with Jaap Schröder’s performance on a Baroque violin, also available on Naxos. The church acoustic (St John Chrysostom’s, Newmarket, Canada) suits the music surprisingly well, creating a rich sense of space. While the echo is perhaps a little too pronounced, the sound of the disc as a whole is very appropriate.
Kaler’s musicianship rises to the works’ many challenges. He is wistful and melancholic for the first Partita, jolly and lithe for the third, and his technical accomplishments are all that they should be for the Fugues and the Chaconne. His tempi are predictable - and, it must be said, fitting - and his control of volume avoids extremes. All of this is altogether suitable, and this is certainly a set I’ll return to frequently. However, as you might guess from this, this means that his playing is dependable rather than inspired. He doesn’t reach the heights of inspiration you hear in Kremer or Perlman. That does mean, however, that if you want to get to know these works for the first time then this is a very good place to start. There is no “concept” and he certainly isn’t trying to make a particular interpretative point. I found this disc thoroughly enjoyable and it only reaffirmed my high opinion of this extraordinary music rather than drawing my attention to the performer himself, which is praise enough. The documentation for the set is adequate, but nothing special. If you want to hear how this music sounds in the hands of a real genius then look to Grumiaux on Philips. Currently remastered in the Originals series you can pick this up surprisingly cheaply at the moment.
In an article for Gramophone (January 2008) Armando Ianucci pointed out that when scientists were sending the Voyager space probe into the outer reaches of the universe, far beyond our solar system, they chose certain works of art to sum up the greatest achievements of the human race in case any passing extra-terrestrials picked it up, and among these works they included the Second Partita. The most astonishing music ever composed? At the Naxos budget price you can afford to find out.
Simon Thompson


Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews

all Bridge reviews

all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews

All Eloquence reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews


Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing




Making a Donation to MusicWeb

Writing CD reviews for MWI

About MWI
Who we are, where we have come from and how we do it.

Site Map

How to find a review

How to find articles on MusicWeb
Listed in date order

Review Indexes
   By Label
      Select a label and all reviews are listed in Catalogue order
   By Masterwork
            Links from composer names (eg Sibelius) are to resource pages with links to the review indexes for the individual works as well as other resources.

Themed Review pages

Jazz reviews


      Composer surveys
      Unique to MusicWeb -
a comprehensive listing of all LP and CD recordings of given works
Prepared by Michael Herman

The Collector’s Guide to Gramophone Company Record Labels 1898 - 1925
Howard Friedman

Book Reviews

Complete Books
We have a number of out of print complete books on-line

With Composers, Conductors, Singers, Instumentalists and others
Includes those on the Seen and Heard site


Nostalgia CD reviews

Records Of The Year
Each reviewer is given the opportunity to select the best of the releases

Monthly Best Buys
Recordings of the Month and Bargains of the Month

Arthur Butterworth Writes

An occasional column

Phil Scowcroft's Garlands
British Light Music articles

Classical blogs
A listing of Classical Music Blogs external to MusicWeb International

Reviewers Logs
What they have been listening to for pleasure



Bulletin Board

Give your opinions or seek answers

Past and present

Helpers invited!

How Did I Miss That?

Currently suspended but there are a lot there with sound clips

Composer Resources

British Composers

British Light Music Composers

Other composers

Film Music (Archive)
Film Music on the Web (Closed in December 2006)

Programme Notes
For concert organizers

External sites
British Music Society
The BBC Proms
Orchestra Sites
Recording Companies & Retailers
Online Music
Agents & Marketing
Other links
Web News sites etc

A pot-pourri of articles

MW Listening Room
MW Office

Advice to Windows Vista users  
Site History  
What they say about us
What we say about us!
Where to get help on the Internet
CD orders By Special Request
Graphics archive
Currency Converter
Web Ring
Translation Service

Rules for potential reviewers :-)
Do Not Go Here!
April Fools

Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.