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GRAMOPHONE (05/2023)
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Reviewer :
Mark Seow

Harpsichordist Silas Wollston opens the Sonata in B minor, BWV1014, with particular evocation (a make or break moment, really, when there are so many already fine albums of Bach’s sonatas for violin and harpsichord available). Wollston plays with breath and mystery, and that most magical thing – when rubato and articulation combine as a single utterance – is effortlessly traced by his fingertips. The spell isn’t broken on violinist Adrian Butterfield’s entrance either, which, beautifully balanced in vulnerability, is a song spinning with life. Only occasionally does the double-stopping get in the way of the flow, but perhaps this colours the sound world of frailty all the more seductively. We don’t have to wait long for some equally fine playing: the third movement, an Andante, is powdered in childlike sensibility. The tempo is well controlled, and this whiff of motion that plays out in the Andante un poco from the Sonata in A, BWV1015, is another highlight. Wollston’s articulation here is distractingly wonderful: nuanced and abundant in detail but never finicky. It’s an excellent contrast to the primary colours of the sonata’s closing Presto. Butterfield’s panache is interestingly tempered: again, there’s something wonderfully childlike in this interpretation, outlined with a feisty edge that never strays into bolshiness.


I appreciate the inclusion of Bach’s abandoned movements for BWV1019. But the Cantabile, ma un poco adagio is far too chirpy for my liking. Surely some notches slower would allow this melody to sing as it so expressly desires. This speedy version comes in at 5'20", and I’m not sure what the hurry is: Podger/Pinnock (6'02" – Channel Classics, 2/01) and Manze/Egarr (7'23" – Harmonia Mundi, 3/00) would seem to agree with me.


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