Bach Inventions and Partitas
Bach tends to sound well in any arrangement, and the Two- and Three-part Inventions certainly make entirely convincing string music, but it seems slightly odd to play the two-part pieces as violin/viola duos when violin and cello could play them with minimal alteration to the original text. Jansen and Rysanov are finely matched, however, and the necessary octave transpositions don’t impair the sense of the music in any way. Both sets of Inventions receive exceptional performances, bursting with spirit and imagination. The fifth Three-part Invention is a delight, with pizzicato cello and beautifully stylish ornamentation in the upper parts, and the lightness and brilliance of the penultimate Two-part Invention would lift anyone’s spirits. Some pieces (eg Nos 9 and 15 of the Two-part) are played throughout in an ultra-quiet, spectral style – very striking, though it’s an approach that tends to iron out Bach’s expressive gestures. But throughout there’s a sense of enjoyment that’s most inspiriting.
Coming between the sets of short pieces, the Partita appears the more expansive. Janine Jansen makes the most of this – her playing is remarkable for its sense of continuity and feeling for the long line. Her interpretations may lack something of the compelling detail of Christian Tetzlaff’s more closely recorded performance (Hänssler, 8/07), but, with her powerful yet flexible rhythmic sense, she gives us something just as impressive. Her Corrente and Giga have a joyful élan, and the Ciaccona builds in long paragraphs, giving the listener a memorable tour of Bach’s grand design.