If ever there was a combination of the sublime
and the ridiculous, this has to be it. Half serious artist and
half new age nature seeker Karen Bently finds her Scandinavian
roots in this rather gimmicky combination of Sebastian Bach’s
sublime second partita for solo violin with Chiropractor/holistic
practitioner cum sort of composer Ole Pullar Saxe’s rambling pastiche
of folk, Latin, Parisian and gypsy violin styles strewn together
in a long on duration/short on ideas suite of dance pieces.
To her credit, Ms. Bentley does as much as her
very able hands can do with Saxe’s rambling dance numbers. Not
only does each individual movement go on for about twice as long
as it has thematic material to support, the listener soon has
a hard time remembering where he is. One minute we are around
the campfire in Hungary surrounded by gypsy wagons, the next we
are in South America dancing a tango and a salsa and, just when
you made it through customs, you land in a Parisian café,
listening to Lucienne Boyer’s warm-up act.
This critique of the score is not to disparage
Karen Bentley’s very able violin playing. She has a lush rich
tone and fine intonation. Her playing is clean and there is an
obvious enthusiasm for music that she regards as coming from her
ancestral roots. The whole affair would fare so much better, however,
if it were half as long.
In an effort to lend the project some classical
credence, we are treated to an overall fine performance of Bach’s
monumental second partita for solo violin. Although I found her
choice of tempi to hover on the slow side, she plays with conviction
and sensitivity, with careful attention to detail and a fine sense
of line. The gigantic ciaccona is delivered with ease and
confidence and moves along with a good sense of forward motion.
It is obviously a well-reasoned and carefully prepared performance.
The final work, for the Norwegian hardangerfele
is a pleasant enough treat, and well played.
Here is a performer of considerable ability and
promise who has chosen a rather cheesy way to present herself.
The packaging and presentation is annoyingly homespun, and frankly
looks rather amateurish. When was the last time you saw a mermaid
playing her violin on the river rocks? C’mon. Notes are acceptable
if completely unscholarly. This is the kind of disc you expect
at craft fairs, not in the classical department.
Perhaps Ms. Bentley should consider keeping her
folk and Bach projects separate, because the one Bach work is
not worth the price of the disc if one has to wade through the
mess of second-rate fare to get to it, regardless of how well
it is played.
If you have nothing better to do with your money
than spend it, then get this for a nice turn on the Bach Partita.
Otherwise, pass it by.
gave this disc a favourable welcome