- Sonata for solo violin No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001
- Suite (Partita) for solo violin No. 2 in A major
- Passacaglia (Mystery Sonata), for violin solo in G minor (standard tuning), C. 105
- Sonata for Violin Solo in A minor
- Partita for solo violin No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
This disc is a triumph on many levels -- superb musicianship, Baroque-period style, and intelligent programming -- none of which will surprise anyone following the career of violinist Rachel Barton Pine. On her previous release, she placed Brahms's familiar Violin Concerto in a fascinating context alongside a little-known concerto by Joseph Joachim, the violinist who had premiered the Brahms. Now she shines an equally revealing light on J. S. Bach, whose six Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin are a cornerstone of the repertoire -- and a benchmark for any performer's technical and interpretive skills. Most violinists would be tempted to prove their mettle by simply focusing on Bach, and Pine's masterful performance leaves no doubt that this, too, would have been a delight to hear. Her rendering of this music's complex textures is absorbing listening, thanks especially to the rich tones produced by the Baroque violin she uses here, unaltered since its 1770 making. But just as gratifying is Pine's decision to work backward from Bach, in an archaeological excavation of the solo violin repertoire of his time: the tradition of which Bach was the summit. Thus, Bach's First Sonata and Second Partita (the latter culminating in the sublime "Ciaconna") are joined by a sonata by Pisendel, a leading virtuoso of the early 1700s and an acquaintance of Bach's; a suite by Westhoff, based on simpler versions of the dance forms that Bach would transcend in his own works; and the highlight among these discoveries, a spiritually intense Passacaglia by Biber. The unusually informative liner notes, written by Pine herself, reveal the deep historical knowledge that provides a solid grounding for her unerring musical instincts.