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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My old favourite
These works are, for me, the highest possible achievement of violin music, and rank alongside the Cello Suites and the Well-Tempered Clavier as Bach's most meditative, introspective and spiritually profound works. They take you through a whole range of emotions and moods, and probably not coincidentally, like the Cello Suites, they end on a bright note, almost like the...
Published on Nov. 10 2006 by Shami Ghosh

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It`s Music
It`s Good Music its just not the kind of music that gets my head spinning when i listen to it
Published 8 months ago by cross con


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My old favourite, Nov. 10 2006
By 
Shami Ghosh - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
These works are, for me, the highest possible achievement of violin music, and rank alongside the Cello Suites and the Well-Tempered Clavier as Bach's most meditative, introspective and spiritually profound works. They take you through a whole range of emotions and moods, and probably not coincidentally, like the Cello Suites, they end on a bright note, almost like the light of heaven shining down on you. Listening to the fugal movements is like being in a private cathedral of sound. And I say this without being a religious person in any way - this music is more personally spiritual, without being necessarily 'religious', like so many of Bach's vocal works.

I first heard these works performed by Menuhin (like Grumiaux, a student of Enescu), and though I retain a fondness for his recordings, I think Grumiaux's version is, all around, the best. I do agree with some of the other reviewers that Milstein can give a bit more passion, and I particularly like how the lower parts of the counterpoint are often more audible in Milstein (for instance, in the beginning bars of the D-Major section of the Chaconne - which is less accented in the Grumiaux), but I personally don't like Milstein's steely tone that much, and Bach sometimes sounds too much like hard work in his versions. In contrast, Grumiaux's tone is much warmer, I find, though he can put on the power very well whenever it's needed, and his playing is so effortless, one is able to really appreciate the beauty and profundity of Bach's works.

I'm very partial to period interpretations normally, and having now acquired Rachel Podger's recordings, I prefer those in many aspects; but on the whole, I find Grumiaux better than the other 'authentic' performance I've heard, that of Kuijken. Grumiaux IS old-fashioned, but he avoids the excesses of most of the others of his generation (even Menuhin takes some movements - like the third of the G-Minor - so slowly, it's impossible to remember it's a dance-movement!), and plays something that seems, to me, to be very much something in the spirit of Bach, even if not entirely 'authentic'. As Manze has said, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with playing Bach on modern instruments - the music is truly universal! Even though on a few points here and there I do prefer other recordings, overall, I find Grumiaux's is simply the best - and I think definitely the best introduction to this awe-inspiring music.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Benchmark recording, June 17 2004
By 
Nabih B. Bulos (Baltimore, MD USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
I caught my first glimpse (or I should say heard my first strain) of this recording in a somewhat serendipitous fashion: I had been searching through the then-mighty Napster for a good recording of the Bach G-minor Fugue, and was instantly struck by how great the violinist was in the file I managed to come upon. After some research, I discovered that it was Arthur Grumiaux, and I then wasted no time in getting the complete set of recordings.
Grumiaux's Bach is marvellous in sheer purity and vibrancy. He does not shy away from a contemporary rendition of these pieces, instead of encumbering himself with all-too-often artificial limitations of so called "performance practise". Instead, the violin literally rings like a bell when chords are played, while the line of the pieces is meticulously developed and maintained throughout (no mean feat, believe me).
It is hard to say which is the best recording of any piece, let alone something as frequently recorded as the Bach violin solo cycle, but this comes pretty darn close to such a title.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY, July 13 2001
This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
I always liked Bach's works for solo violin, and had a few recordings of them, but they were budget recordings of mediocre quality, yet still, they were beautiful. However, until hearing this Grumiaux recording, I had no idea just how beautiful and powerful these pieces could be. This recording is masterful, creating a great balance between perfect technique(and these are supposed to be some of the most technically challenging pieces for violin)and emotional and spiritual power(I think Bach should always have a spiritual feeling to it because he was inspired by religion and even his secular works are rather divine). The playing is some of the finest violin playing I've ever heard, and the sound quality of the recording is fantastic. My reaction to this record now is the same as when I first heard it: I was and am totally blown away by the quality of the compositions and the playing. Be marveled by one of the best Bach performances available. The famous chaconne(or ciaccona, your choice) is definitely the highlight. WOW!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best overall performance, Feb. 3 2004
By 
blue-59 (Blount Springs, Alabama, United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
Several recorded versions of the Bach sonatas and partitas are about as good as performances can be, and, like the Well-Tempered Keyboard, these works are of such central importance to Western music that serious listeners simply cannot own too many versions.
But if I were restricted to owning just one, Grumiaux's would be it. Though pedants may complain that Grumiaux deviates from what modern scholarship has determined about Bach performance style, he still delivers a hundred percent of this most glorious music.
The recorded sound is superb: smooth and musical from first note to last. It is hard to believe that these recordings were made in 1960 and 1961. Now I see that Philips has 24-bit/96k remastered these. I will purchase that set immediately!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent!!!, March 10 2003
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This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
I was going to buy Szeryng's recording but somehow got this one.
It's truly amazing! You can hear the passionate yet stately noble interpretation by Grumiaux along with the musicality he brought out from the sonatas and partitas. He adds to them his own style yet not affecting the objective view of looking at the music, which I think is important when playing Bach.
I play cello myself, and like the 6 cello suites these 6 works for unaccompanied violin are truly superior work for the instrument. It is a must-have collection, for anyone who even have a slight interest in violin/string music, and for anyone who loves Bach.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not the best, but extremely good., March 9 2003
By 
Anton Dam (San Jose, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
This is not the best recording of these works, however it is still one that is worthy of the works. The tone is broad, warm and relatively rich. There are so many poor recordings of these works by comtemporary performers that you will relieved to come by a recording such as this. The playing here is such that it will touch your heart. In contrast to the recording by, my favorite, Nathan Milstein its very calm in character and fails to capture the drama certain parts of this work as Milstein does. Anyhow, if you are looking for a great recording of Bach and you have looked at Milstein, Szeryng and Enescu, buy this one, its worth it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely transcendental, May 11 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
I stumbled upon this recording gem as college student needing to find a recording of the Ciaccona for a class paper. There are no other words to describe this interpretation other than utterly and completely beautiful. Over the years, I have studied other recordings of these masterpieces by other violinists, but - as many have testified before - this is the one recording I have always returned to. A true expression of a musical offering from a composer deeply devoted to God exacted to perfection by an artist who realizes this devotion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb renditions of truly exquisite quality.., April 25 2002
This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
This set by Grumiaux of Bach's Sonatas and Partitas is truly magnificent. The recording quality is great and words cannot express the beauty of the music and the artistry of Grumiaux's performance.
If you like solo violin this set will take you to new heights. The sheer beauty and harmony of the pieces will thrill you to no end. Even if you don't particularly care for classical music this set deserves your attention. If you even remotely like music you will be hooked. What a bargain!
Very HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
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5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite recording of a cornerstone of Western art., May 25 2001
By 
Bob Zeidler (Charlton, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
The name Johann Sebastian Bach conjures up a multitude of musical vistas: Cantatas and oratorios, instrumental concerti, solo keyboard works, chamber music, and, ultimately, a handful of cornerstones of Western art: The B Minor Mass, The Well-Tempered Clavier, The Art of Fugue, the Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, and these Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin. By these five works alone, Bach's place in history is assured. Not that he needs my vote, or opinion for that matter, to decide the issue.
Many words could be (and in fact have been) spilt over the issue of who are the best artists for Bach's solo instrumental works. For the keyboard works, it's often a case of "Glenn Gould vs. everyone else," and equally often, piano vs. harpsichord. For the cello suites, substitute Pablo Casals for Glenn Gould, and "never mind that Casals' approach wasn't 'authentic'." Simply put, greatness is, well, greatness.
For these solo violin works, after having heard many great violinists - of both "authentic" and "modern" persuasion - play them, I always come back to this Arthur Grumiaux recording as being my favorite. Grumiaux was nothing if not an elegant violinist, and he had a superb Stradivarius for an instrument. But, if you are thinking that elegance is short for "sounds too smooth for me," rest assured that Grumiaux does not round off the edges of these works. This is a bravura performance of such technical virtuosity that it would be easy to believe Grumiaux to have been a Bach specialist (which he was not, having a far wider repertoire). He simply played these masterpieces in the way that he believed in them: that they do in fact represent "a cornerstone of Western art." He doesn't shortcut the crags and the tough parts; he makes apparent the implied counterpoint written in the music; his intonation and articulation are flawless. And, on top of all that, he has an instrument that simply sings.
A somewhat shorter version of all of the above: While perhaps not easy for the novice to grasp at first hearing, these works are of such sublime perfection as performed by Grumiaux that even the novice will surely be won over and revisit this performance again and again, each time bringing something new and fresh away from the performance. THIS, in a nutshell, is what this recording is all about.
In the early 60's - when this Grumiaux recording was originally produced and released on two LP's - there were very few record companies that could compete with Philips on a "quality" basis, either in sound reproduction or in lack of surface and extraneous noise. I still have those LP's, and they still sound remarkably good. The quality of those Philips master tapes clearly contributed to the excellent sound on these CD's. The two-LP release also had quite a bit extra by way of liner notes which were not included in this CD release under review. Philips has this recording included in its "Philips 50" release schedule, a clear sign that it considers Grumiaux's Bach a high point in its recording history (as do I and the other uniformly-5-star reviewers here), and a possible sign that those original liner notes will be included when the "Philips 50" remastering reaches the market. But no need to wait that long. It's the music that matters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent and beyond, May 10 2000
By 
M. Donahue (Elk Grove, CA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin (Audio CD)
The Bach solo violin works as performed by the late Arthur Grumiaux will absolutely stop you in your tracks, clear the nonsense from your poor overloaded brain, and deliver you to celestial simplicity. Not kidding ! Of course, these are some of the most indescribable works ever written and many good artists have delivered up their beauty, but, as you (over a few listenings) tune in to the perfect pitch, flawless finger work and the warm feeling in the delivery, holy smokes ! The Stradivarius which Belgian artist A. Grumiaux owned and recorded with must be one of the loveliest-sounding violins ever to grace the world of recorded music. As they used to write about Mr. Grumiaux: he put exactly the right touch on every note. This is some direct-current electricity for your whole system, and you may need to sit and injest this in small doses at first ! Its definitely not your ordinary background classical fare for lite chatter and soothing reveries; this is the intensely beautiful language of a powerfully creative and emotional man of the 1700's speaking directly to us. Many of the other A.G. works are just as tasty and are highly recommended.
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Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin
Complete Sonatas & Partitas For Solo Violin by Johann Sebastian Bach (Audio CD - 1993)
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