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Bach: The Six Sonatas and Partitas

4.3 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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Audio CD, August 4, 1998
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Paul Galbraith performs Bach's Sonatas and Partitas for unaccompanied violin on his revolutionary 8-string guitar. A recording of exceptional virtuosity, the tone and dynamic range Galbraith achieves is astonishing. This is a truly great recording. 'a lan

Amazon.com

While many guitarists carry single movements from Bach's solo violin sonatas and partitas in their repertoires, Paul Galbraith has transcribed the entire set for his custom-made eight-string instrument. The arrangements are wrought with skill, and employ subtle textural filling and intriguing segues between certain movements. Yet Galbraith's glitchless, fur-tipped fingers coddle these works to where Bach's harmonic daring, rhythmic momentum, and emotional contrasts vanish into smooth oblivion. Great guitar playing and gorgeous sonics, yes, but essentially Bach-lite. --Jed Distler
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (August 4, 1998)
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Delos
  • ASIN: B000009SDY
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,596 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on January 19, 2000
Format: Audio CD
This album is, indeed, a must for Bach fans. Unlike other reviewers, I do not find it "easy listening", on the contrary. Especially if you know the violin pieces well, this recording will blow you away (or at least keep you wide awake at night). The reason is the dazzling lucidity of Galbraith's playing. Sure, on one (superficial) level, the emotional depth seems to be toned down. However, on a different (deeper) level, it's the opposite: by keeping the range of his speed and volume limited, Galbraith achieves a density and concentration I have never heard before in Bach's partitas. He practically forces you to put down the book that you might be reading at the same time, and to listen carefully. What a happy combination of technical brilliance and musical understanding of Bach's work.
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By A Customer on April 10, 2000
Format: Audio CD
I fell in love with Bach's music many years ago, and as a player of classical guitar I have had the pleasure of enjoying the great recordings of Bream, Segovia, Yepes, etc. I haven't been actively keeping up in this area of late, but a review of the Galbraith recordings of the Bach Violin Sonatas and Partitas came to my attention, and I decided to jump back in. I feel fortunate that I did! I never thought my interest could be rekindled like this. Galbraith's interpretations of these pieces is deeply reverent of the music. Galbraith doesn't try to showcase his playing. Rather, he has clearly dedicated himself to understanding the music, and playing exquisitely detailed and unhurried performances that let the music speak for itself. For those of you who are new to this music, the Chaconne from the 2nd Partita is one of the crowning monuments of any music by any composer of any time. Each time I listen, I marvel at how much emotion comes from this profound and spare piece of music. As Galbraith says in the liner notes, this piece is "fathomless" in it's depth. Galbraith's slower-than-typical pace, and his reverent attention to each note and musical line is wholly up to the inspiration this piece demands. The performance is heart stopping. It brings me to tears each time I listen, and I have to remember to start breathing again when it's over. I think that both people familiar with this music and people new to it can find great enjoyment in these performances. END
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By A Customer on April 12, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I probably have 100 or so classical guitar recordings, and this one stands out from the others as boldly as the Segovia recordings, but for a totally different reason. The unique sound of the instrument, perfect playing, and lack of normal string noise took me quite by surprise. Very highly recommended.
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Format: Audio CD
I have been listening to the sonatas & partitas for solo violin since the early 70's when I purchased a budget 3 record set of Szeryng's violin performances. After 25+ years of intense listening to a variety of artists performing this work on violin and guitar I am still often moved to tears by the power and beauty of the compositions. Galbraith's performances convey an almost complete absence of ego. There is nothing flashy or explosive about this recording. He delivers transcriptions for the guitar and execution that conveys the most extreme reverence for the music. In spite of his restraint there is nothing dull or flat about the recordings however. He performs on a bizarre 8-string guitar that he has helped develop which utilizes a sound box between his feet connected to the guitar by a metal rod. This guitar sounds gorgeous. The combination of Galbraith's approach and the richness of sound elevates the overall effect to almost unbearable transcendent beauty. This recording should provide a lifetime of enjoyment to anyone who has a deep appreciation and love for music.
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Format: Audio CD
There are a lot of reasons to own this recording, even if you already have other recordings of Bach on guitar. Here are a few:

1. Galbraith is as good a technical guitarist as I've ever heard.

2. The sound is beautiful - full and warm.

3. Galbraith plays a unique 8-string guitar, which results in an equally unique listening experience. You hear bass notes so low that, as a friend remarked, they almost seem like organ notes! The advantage of having access to these extra low notes, besides the 'wow' factor, is that all Bach transcriptions for guitar (Bach did not write for guitar, so any Bach you hear on the instrument has been arranged/transcribed from works Bach wrote for other instruments, usually lute, violin, or cello) run into problems because the bass lines sometimes have to jump to a different octave at awkward spots, simply because the 6-string guitar does not go low enough. Galbraith's guitar has only one extra bass string (and one extra string on top), but it is enough to help create smoother bass lines with no (or few) weird leaps.

There are some aspects of these recordings, that, on repeated listenings became slightly dissatisfying, however, but I hasten to add that they might not bother anyone else, and I'd still highly recommend these recordings to anyone.

1. The main one is that Galbraith's approach seems to be to let the music speak for itself, which is fine as far as it goes, but I would argue that almost any other recording guitarist injects more personality into their performances than does Galbraith.
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