- Sonata for solo violin No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001
- Partita for solo violin No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002
- Sonata for solo violin No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003
- Partita for solo violin No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
- Sonata for solo violin No. 3 in C major, BWV 1005
- Partita for solo violin No. 3 in E major, BWV 1006
Gidon Kremer's new performances of the Sonatas and Partitas are a reminder that J. S. Bach is the most contemporary of all composers. It seldom crosses the listener's mind that this is "Baroque" music; rather, Kremer taps into its eternal freshness and modernity, as if the ink on the manuscript was not yet quite dry. This is the violinist's second recording of these works, following his first by a quarter century. In the meantime, he has pursued a remarkably adventurous career, both in new music and old -- a career that has surely left its mark on his Bach in many ways. Most of all, time seems to have made Kremer's approach more spontaneous and personal: Despite a certain austerity of mood, these are certainly not "objective" interpretations -- there's no aspiration to historical accuracy here. But neither is there the least bit of romanticized sentiment. Kremer often emphasizes the music's jagged edges and does not disguise the harshness required to attack a three- or four-note chord. He also exploits the full range of the modern violin's dynamics and tone colors, but none of this ever feels like a distortion. By refusing to prettify Bach, Kremer realizes a greater quotient of the music's expressive beauty than many higher-gloss performances have managed, especially in the most highly charged movement of the cycle, the mammoth Chaconne from the Second Partita. There are plenty of classic recordings of the complete Sonatas and Partitas -- from Milstein, Grumiaux, and Szeryng, to name a few familiar laureates -- to document 20th-century perspectives. It was a foregone conclusion that Bach would cross over into the new millennium, and Kremer, bold and unique as ever, deserves credit for making it happen.