[ Ecm New Series / 2 CD ]
Release Date: Tuesday 10 September 2013
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Johann Sebastian Bach began work on his six sonatas for violin and harpsichord (BWV 1014-19) while at the courts of Weimar and Köthen and returned to the compositions over several decades, revising and polishing until the years before his death. C.P.E. Bach would later pronounce the pieces "among the best works of my dear father." Prefiguring the classical duo sonata, violin and keyboard meet on equal terms in this music, and both are challenged by Bach's compositional demands.
Violinist Michelle Makarski invited Keith Jarrett to join her in exploring these pieces, the two musicians - friends since Jarrett's Bridge of Light recording - meeting frequently over a two year period, simply for the pleasure of playing the Sonatas. The idea of documenting them came late in the process: in November 2010 Makarski and Jarrett recorded the sonatas at the American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York. This is Jarrett's first 'classical' recording since his Mozart Piano Concertos discs of 1996, and only the second occasion on which he has recorded Bach on piano rather than harpsichord.
Keith Jarrett's earlier Bach recordings include Das Wohltemperierte Klavier (Buch 1, 1987; Buch II, 1990), Goldberg Variations (1989), 3 Sonaten für Viola da Gamba und Cembalo (1991, with Kim Kashkashian), and The French Suites (1991). Michelle Makarski's New Series recordings include the recital discs Caoine (1995, with music of Bach, Biber, Hartke, Reger and Rochberg), Elegio per un'ombra (1999, with music of Tartini, Dallapiccola, Berio, Carter and Petrassi) and To Be Sung On The Water (2004, with music of Tartini and Crockett).
"nothing gimmicky here: from Jarrett come soft hands producing clear texture, well-judged tempi and precise but never fussy articulation; from Makarski, stylish and musical playing, Baroque in its low vibrato and relaxed tone but with still a touch of 'modern' sweetness to the sound...for its cool beauty and unaffected honesty, this recording is one that will be very easy to live with." Gramophone Magazine, October 2013
"While both performers have strong musical personalities, they achieve an apt democratic balance between the violin and piano parts...Both musicians give impeccable technical performances and, while there is no shortage of recordings of these Sonatas, Jarrett and Makarski's interpretations add something individual." BBC Music Magazine, December 2013 *****