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Johann Sebastian BACH (1685-1750)
Six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin
Sonata No.1 in G minor, BWV 1001 [17:08]
Partita No.1 in B minor, BWV 1002 [29:46]
Sonata No.2 in A minor, BWV 1003 [25:08]
Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004 [29:46]
Sonata No.3 in C major, BWV 1005 [25:25]
Partita No.3 in E major, BWV 1006 [19:04]
Wolfgang Marschner (violin)
rec. 1972
DOREMI DHR8104/5 [72:09 + 74:21]

Since this new release was compiled, the German violinist Wolfgang Marschner has died on the 24 March 2020 at the age of ninety-three. He was born in Dresden in 1926 into a distinguished musical family, and was admitted to the Mozarteum, Salzburg aged only fourteen. After a spell in the army doing national service during the Second World War, he resumed his violin studies with the illustrious concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, Erich Rohn. Once his concertizing took off, it flourished side- by-side with a career as a concertmaster, first in Hannover, then in Cologne. It was here that he gave the German premiere of the Walton Violin Concerto. He was also a renowned teacher, holding posts in Essen, Cologne, Tokyo and Freiburg, and a prolific composer, with several symphonies, concertos, chamber and solo violin works to his name. Throughout his career, he amassed a fairly sizeable discography.

For those who gravitate towards the Milstein and Szeryng Bach cycles, you will find that Marschner cuts the mustard in these works. His are traditional readings; the playing never sounds mannered or idiosyncratic. Timings and pacings are comfortable and there's an intelligent approach to phrasing and articulation. Marschner's intonation status is unproblematic and I'm drawn to his warm tone, which is enveloped by a rich bloom and opulence.

The Sarabandes, especially, are lyrically woven and poetically voiced and the dance movements emit exuberance and joy. In the polyphonic passages, everything is teased out with clarity and definition, with double and triple stops clean and well-managed. Marschner's Chaconne is noble and magisterial, the variations stylistically characterized. When he brings you home at the end, there's a great sense of fulfilment and inevitability.

The recording, set down by Marschner in 1972, was originally issued on a now ultra-rare 3 LP set on the Christophorus label which commands vast sums. The digital remastering and restorations have been carried out by Jacob Harnoy and Clive Allen and, I have to say, are superb. They obviously had access to first-class source material. The sound quality is remarkably good and, although the recording venue isn't given, the acoustic provides the perfect amount of resonance to make this a thoroughly pleasurable listening experience. It has to be one of the finest Bach sonata cycles ever to have come my way.

Stephen Greenbank



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