JS BACH Sonatas & Partitas BWV1001-3
The only frustrating thing about this disc is how long Isabelle Faust (or maybe Harmonia Mundi) has made us wait for the second volume of her complete set of the Sonatas and Partitas.
Two years ago the first volume (6/10) became the most definitive modern performance of these extraordinary works and here Faust concludes the collection with performances no less worthy of the description. This time, the disc contains the opening prelude and fugue movements of the G minor sonata as its weightiest offering, standing directly opposite the mighty Chaconne of the D minor Partita on the first, and, again, Faust gently showcases everything of which these pieces are capable: the genius of their structure, melody, internal dialogue and even the broader relationship between the movements, is brought out in her own unique way. She creates a feeling that, although there is a deep musical understanding behind her performance in which she has quiet confidence, there is no overarching ego trying to make the intricate counterpoint bend to her will. As a result, it is easy to hear all the melodies Bach piles on top of one another in these masterpieces, softly guided by Faust, whose pride extends only as far as wanting the music to be the best it can be. Faust calls these pieces ‘calligraphic’ and, now that the set is complete, these discs form a special edition of the sort of musical literature to which most subsequent composers have only been able to aspire.