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In 1994, explains the booklet that accompanies Morimur, Professor Helga Thoene made the surprising discovery that the monumental "Ciaccona" from Bach's Partita in D minor for solo violin was built around various chorale themes hidden in the music. From the texts of these "secret" chorales and other symbolic musical devices, she deduced that the "Ciaccona" was an epitaph for Bach's wife, Maria Barbara. The revelation might have remained an intriguing (and touching) footnote to Bach scholarship if baroque violinist Christoph Poppen hadn't had the bright idea of taking Professor Thoene's discovery off the library shelves and placing it triumphantly in the concert hall. On this disc, his performance of all five movements of the whole Partita (BWV 1004) is interspersed with the various chorales hidden inside the "Ciaccona," sung with breathtaking precision by the Hilliard Ensemble. The double whammy comes at the end when the "Ciaccona" is performed again, this time with the singers bringing out the secret melodies. Poppen's playing is excellent, both sweet-toned and vibrant, while the Hilliards have never sounded better: the combination of the two is spine-tingling. It is as if Maria Barbara's proper epitaph has finally been realized, and a moving and wonderfully stimulating recording created in the process. --Warwick Thompson
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Bach is said to have composed this as an ode to his late wife. The solo violin and its reverberation, along with the hushed tones of the chorus, imbue this music with a loneliness and angst that certainly suggests such an intention.
The Goddard still on the front cover of the enclosed booklet (shown here) beautifully illustrates the music itself, I think.
Remarkable And Recommended.
I read the comments of other reviewers regarding the violin playing and comparing that playing to Perlman's on CD and Heifitz on LP -- there is no comparison. But this idea is so interesting and the combined sound so good that I want it to work.