Ciaccona. Bach, Gerhard, Holliger, Pauset. Ilya Gringolts. © 2021 BIS Records AB

CD Spotlight

Often Beautiful

GEOFF PEARCE listens to Ilya Gringolts

'Gringolts is an exciting violinist, his technique flawless, his sound sumptuous ...'


I have been a long time admirer of the violin playing and keen musicianship of Ilya Gringolts since I first heard him play in recordings when he was in his late teens. I have heard him play some of the Bach Partitas and this new album was something I wanted to hear.

The first work on the disc is Drei kleine Szenen (2014) by the oboist/composer/conductor Heinz Holliger (born 1939). These three short pieces are interesting, and give us a wide selection of influences, sounds and contrasts throughout these three movements (lasting 3-4 minutes each). The first one uses a human voice along with the violin to create an atmospheric and rather eerie effect; the second is more angular and has some different effects to those one would be used to hearing in traditional violin music, and the last one is influenced by the sound of the duduk. This last piece is entitled 'Musette funèbre' - a very apt title, with the drone effect and the music which is a lament.

Listen — Heinz Holliger: Musette funèbre (Drei kleine Szenen)
(track 3, 0:00-0:46) ℗ 2021 BIS Records AB :

The next work, by Roberto Gerhard (1896-1970), entitled Chaconne, was composed in 1959 and is in twelve short movements. Whilst they utilise the twelve tone technique, they also owe a considerable debt to Bach and some of the twentieth century writers of solo violin music. The order of notes within the tone rows is not strict, giving the composer much more freedom, and a lyrical and often beautiful result is achieved. There is considerable variety within each small movement and whilst this music is not for everyone, the writing is a lot less austere than one might imagine, and there is much to be gained by listening.

Listen — Roberto Gerhard: Adagietto (Chaconne)
(track 11, 0:13-1:01) ℗ 2021 BIS Records AB :

The remainder of this disc is taken up with a work called Kontrapartita by Brice Pauset (born 1965). This is a section of seven movements of Bach drawn from three Partitas, 3, 1 and 2, respectively, and these are prefixed by seven movements that Pauset wrote reflecting different characters of the Bach movements. At times, there may be direct quotes, and at others, the composer will capture stylistic or atmospheric characteristics that have influenced him in the creation of his work. Sometimes the correlations are obvious and at other times less so, however the movements are enjoyable in their own right.

Listen — Brice Pauset: Allemanda (Kontrapartita)
(track 18, 1:08-1:46) ℗ 2021 BIS Records AB :

Listen — J S Bach: Allemanda (Partita No 1 in B minor, BWV 1002)
(track 19, 0:32-1:25) ℗ 2021 BIS Records AB :

The disc ends fittingly, I think, with the great Chaconne from the second Partita, preceded by the movement it inspired.

Listen — Brice Pauset: Ciaccona (Kontrapartita)
(track 28, 0:01-0:52) ℗ 2021 BIS Records AB :

Listen — J S Bach: Ciaccona (Partita No 2 in D minor, BWV 1004)
(track 29, 0:00-0:47) ℗ 2021 BIS Records AB :

There are eighty-five minutes of music on this disc. Gringolts is an exciting violinist, his technique flawless, his sound sumptuous and this is a CD that I think every serious violinist and lover of the instrument will want to own.

Copyright © 5 September 2021 Geoff Pearce,
Sydney, Australia








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