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Sonatas & Partitas for Violin BWV 1001-1006
Hopkinson Smith (Lute)
Sonatas & Partitas for Violin performed on Lute by Hopkinson Smith

T-3

Bach: Sonatas & Partitas (lute versions)

Sonatas & Partitas for solo violin BWV 1001-1006, arranged for Baroque Lute by Hopkinson Smith [16:09, 28:34, 21:35, 29:10, 21:00, 20:16]

Hopkinson Smith (13-course Baroque Lute by Joël van Lennep, Boston 1980)

Auvidis - Naïve 8678

Sep-Nov 1999

2-CD / TT: 137:02

Recorded at Mandelsloh, Germany.
Review: Hopkinson Smith’s Sonatas & Partitas (BWV 1001-1006) [C. Schweickert]
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Sonatas & Partitas for Violin performed on Lute by Hopkinson Smith

Kirk McElhearn wrote (November 16, 2001):
The Sonatas and Partitas are some of my favorite Bach works. They are actually the first Bach works I ever owned on LP, in the Henryk Szyerng recording. I have listened to them countless times, and can hum almost all of them note for note.

I have nothing against transcriptions, and have, in recent times, enriched my collection with some interesting recordings. The Sonatas and Partitas seem to me a likely candidate for such transcriptions, and, indeed, many lutenists and guitarists have transcribed individual pieces, especially the 1004, with the famous chaconne.

Listening to the Smith recording, my first thought was, What is this music? For some reason it didn't SOUND like the Sonatas and Partitas, but sounded like some very nice Bach music on lute. I cannot put my finger on it, but his transcriptions seem to take all of the energy and force out of these pieces.

His playing is excellent, although often overdone - he sounds like he is trying more to show off than to be musical. There are many notes "added" so he can play very fast, which detracts from the overall musicality. I am sure that guitarists and lutenists will like this, but to me is sounds a bit muddled. He has totally changed the rhythm of the works, trying to impose lute phrasing on music that is too well-known, changing it a great deal. I just listened to part of the first sonata, in both violin (Kuijken) and lute, and the difference is obvious.

One think about the violin music is that it is a mere skeleton, and what makes it work is that Bach somehow manages to make you imagine the polyphony in your head. This is all lost on lute...

Now, while the above is negative, I do feel that this is a very good performance, a fine recording, but it just doesn't "do it" for me. If you are a plucked fan, you will love it, but if you are very familiar with the violin works, you may be disappointed.

 

Sonatas & Partitas for Violin BWV 1001-1006: S&P - Cruft | S& P - Gaehler | S&P - Hahn | S&P - Kuijken | S&P - Matthews | MD - Chaconne
Sonatas & Partitas for Guitar BWV 1001-1006: S&P Guitar - Galbraith [McElhearn] | S&P Guitar - H. Smith [K. McElhearn] | S&P Guitar - H. Smith [C. Schweickert]

Hopkinson Smith: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Sonatas & Partitas for Violin performed on Lute by Hopkinson Smith [K. McElhearn] | Hopkinson Smith’s Sonatas & Partitas (BWV 1001-1006) [C. Schweickert]

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Last update: ýJune 4, 2008 ý15:57:47