Amandine Beyer, Baroque violin. (Zig Zag Territoires)
To many, Bach’s Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin have become one vast uninterrupted musical fabric. Thanks to French Baroque violinist Amandine Beyer, you have the opportunity to meet each Sonata and Partita anew, each with its own personality and range of musical and technical possibilities.
Beyer’s use of the violin’s unique resources in terms of dynamic swell and highly nuanced tone color, even in the shortest of bow strokes, is consistently exhilarating.
And despite the wealth of expressive means she applies, the music flows smoothly and organically, within individual movements and from movement to movement within individual suites.
Paradoxically, although her playing affirms musicology in its energy and attention to detail and expressive meaning, Beyer uses ornamentation sparingly, usually in repeated passages, and subjugates tempi, with their happy acquiescence, to what she reckons is the music’s most graceful trajectory.
Zig Zag Territoires’ production team, working in a historic Swiss theater dating back to 1837, has given Beyer a natural acoustic in which to become intimate with Bach.
The liner notes, by Beyer and Olivier Fourés, find it provocative that Bach titled the music “Sei solo” (rather than the grammatically correct “Sei Soli”), which can be translated literally as “you’re alone.”
Her performance of a solo violin sonata by Pisendel, “the best-known German violinist of his generation,” provides context for what Bach’s contemporaries might have experienced when they first heard this extraordinary music.
Beyer’s modern fiddle, based on classic models, was made in 1996 by Pierre Jacquier; Eduardo Gorr made her bow in 2000. The combination provides a variety of rich and subtle sound; though sometimes in the fastest movements her bow has to scurry to keep up with the notes, generally it holds its own with Bach’s requests for virtuosity.
Her double-stops throughout are quite pleasing.