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Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord BWV 1014-1019

Giuliano Carmignola (Violin) & Andrea Marcon (Harpsichord)

Bach's Violin & Harpsichord Sonatas from Carmignola & Marcon


Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord

Six Sonatas, BWV 1014-1019

Giuliano Carmignola (Violin); Andrea Marcon (Harpsichord)



2-CD / TT: 93:54

Donald Satz wrote (March 30, 2002):
I have been waiting with enthusiasm for this set of Bach's Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord. I've been a big fan of Andrea Marcon's Bach organ recordings on Hanssler, and I welcomed the opportunity to hear from Giuliano Carmignola who has garnered much praise for his previous recordings of the baroque repertoire.

On the surface, the set doesn't offer a generous supply of music with only the six sonatas for our enjoyment. Most sets from other sources provide at least one other multi-movement work. However, this Sony set does sell for only the price of two mid-priced discs, so the issue is not significant.

My evaluation of the Carmignola/Marcon set is largely based on the following six criteria:

1. Energy & Projection - A great deal of energy is accumulated and dispersed in Bach's Violin & Harpsichord Sonatas; this also applies to the slower movements. From my perspective, the process needs strong projection and vitality especially from the violin.

Both Carmignola and Marcon display much exuberance and vitality. Projection is routinely robust from Carmignola along the lines of Biondi and Blumenstock. There are some differences between Carmignola and Blumenstock(my favorite set). Blumenstock is incisive and quite angular, while Carmignola takes a more dignified, rounded, and stately approach. The energy in the music is handled very well by Marcon and Carmignola; my sole reservation concerns the tremendous release of energy by the violin at the conclusion of the first movement of BWV 1014 where Carmignola holds back his strength a little.

2. Conversation Among Voices - The counterpoint provides for frequent displays of interaction with varied emotional themes. Factors such as instrument placement on the soundstage and the connections between the two performers are paramount.

Carmignola and Marcon are given equal status from the sound engineers. They are entirely in sync with one another, and their interaction is insightful and penetrating. I do get the feeling that they are conversing under an umbrella of varied emotions, and that makes a world of difference in these works.

3. Poignancy and Depth of Emotion - The slow movements are particularly vivid and rich in emotion as the performers have to dig into the depths of human remorse and despair.

Carmignola conveys much depth, but the performances of Blumenstock reveal that the last ounce of feeling is missing from his readings.

4. Excitement - The fast movements certainly have the capacity to excite the listener. It's the time for the performers to 'let loose' and try to enter the listener's bloodstream.

This is another excellent area for Carmignola and Marcon. They don't stint on the spring and excitement of the fast movements and their rhythmic energy is at high levels.

5. Tension & Urgency - Basic components that apply to both the fast and slow movements. Factors including articulation, spacing, and rhythmic patterns play a major role in conveying these crucial features of Bach's music.

Although Carmignola provides plenty of tension, it's still Blumenstock who digs deeper with her sharp articulation and pulls this listener into her grasp.

6. Tonal Appeal - Some folks continue to maintain that a baroque violin can not deliver tonal beauty, but they just haven't figured out that beauty comes in different packages. Biondi and Manze well reveal the beauty of the baroque violin, and Carmignola is also in this category. His tone is consistently gorgeous throughout the six sonatas on his anonymous baroque instrument; he often provides a great 'cantabile' style which is hard to resist. The sound is relatively rich with excellent intonation. There's none better than Carmignola for tonal appeal.

7. Cembalo Solo from BWV 1019 - I give this movement a special designation for two reasons. First, it's one of Bach's most joyous and exuberant pieces of music. Second, it is the only harpsichord solo movement in the set and gives the harpsichordist a wonderful opportunity to make his/her mark.

Andrea Marcon gives a fine performance of the harpsichord solo; he's quick and exuberant. I would have liked a little more bounce to the rhythm as Alessandrini offers on Opus 111, but Marcon well satisfies.

I hope that the above comments have conveyed my high opinion of the new Sony set of Bach's Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord. It's two best features are the beauty of tone displayed by Carmignola and the consistency of excellence throughout the performances. I recently perused a review of the set which likened Carmignola's readings to those of Biondi except that Biondi was more expressive. From my perspective, a better comparison would be that Carmignola is similar to Biondi without the romanticizing that Biondi employs.

Don's Conclusions: An excellent set which should please a wide variety of Bach enthusiasts. I can't think of another set which is more consistently engaging, and I urge readers to consider adding Carmignola and Marcon to their record library.

Feedback to the above Review

Zeev Schor wrote (March 31, 2002):
I already own the Naxos set of Bach's Violin & Harpsichord Sonatas with van Dael and van Asperen (which I like very much) and I would like to acquire the Bach's Violin & Harpsichord Sonatas set with Carmignola and Marcon. Unfortunately, neither Amazon nor CDNOW are offering it at the moment. I would appreciate receiving any information from where this set can be ordered (online).

Gene Halaburt wrote (April 1, 2002):
[To Zeev Schor] A&B Sound in Canada <> show it (Sony S2K89469) available on-line for $28.99 Cdn ($19.72 USD) plus shipping. Usual disclaimers.

Sonatas for Violin & Harpsichord BWV 1014-1019: Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Carmignola & Marcon | Comberti & Tilney | Ngai & Watchorn (Satz) | Ngai & Watchorn (McElhearn) | Ronez & Kubitschek | Standage & Ad-El

Andrea Marcon: Short Biography | Venice Baroque Orchestra | Recordings | Bach Arias – conducted by Andrea Marcon with Angelika Kirchschlager | Early Bach Organ Works from Andrea Marcon | Bach's Violin & Harpsichord Sonatas from Carmignola & Marcon

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