BACH 910-11
A two-CD set

The Six Partitas & Sonatas for Solo Violin

Historic performances by Emil Telmanyi
using the Vega Curved Bow.

More info: The Baroque German Violin Bow.

In his Six Partitas and Sonatas for solo violin, Bach makes frequent use of chords, which contemporary violinists using Italian bows claim are unplayable, so substituting arpeggios instead. Attempts have been made to construct or re-construct a curved bow capable of playing true chords.

A prominent supporter of the curved bow was Albert Schweitzer, shown on our cover with Emil Telmanyi. "Every one who has heard these [solo violin] sonatas must have realized how sadly his material enjoyment of them falls below his ideal enjoyment," Schweitzer wrote in his comprehensive 1908 study of Bach's music. For Schweitzer, there was no question but that Bach meant for the chords to be played as simultaneities and not as arpeggios. He declared arpeggiation "a particularly bad effect, even in the finest playing," and he could not allow that Bach would have "overstepped the bounds of artistic possibility."

Check the Chaconne from Bach's Partita 2 played by Emil Telmanyi
Note especially the alternation of chord and single-line melody, an essential feature of Bach's original conceptualization.

Violin Sonata No.1 in G minor, BWV 1001
Violin Partita No.1 in B minor, BWV 1002
Violin Sonata No.2 in A minor, BWV 1003
Violin Partita No.2 in D minor, BWV 1004
Violin Sonata No.3 in C major, BWV 1005
Violin Partita No.3 in E major, BWV 1006

Baroque Music Library