French violinist David Grimal plays the complete set of Bach’s six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin (BMV 1001-06) on a new recording from ambroisie. Grimal’s performances of these iconic works by Bach are coupled with composer Brice Pauset’s 2009 Kontrapartita. Pauset, born in Besançon , France in 1965, is cited by Grimal as a key influence in his understanding of Bach’s music.
Grimal speaks at length in the album’s liner notes about his special preparation for this recording – a journey to what he calls “Bach’s magic mountain”, which included his intensive work studying and performing Beethoven’s String Quartets, an earlier live recording he made of Bach’s complete Sonatas and Partitas, and a Bach tour he made across India. Grimal also provides details of his particular approach to tuning and other technical matters: “What I really needed was a different violin, set up in a Baroque way. But there was no question of exchanging my Stradivarius for another violin! This recording, therefore, is a transcription of Bach’s sonatas and partitas, played on a 1710 Stradivarius with a modern setup, metal strings, and a Francois-Xavier Tourte bow made in the early 19th century.”
In addition to the two CDs, Grimal’s new recording also includes a DVD, featuring a film by Frédéric Delesque in which Grimal performs the complete Partita No. 2 in D minor. This five-movement partita concludes with the famous “Chaconne”, a monumental movement lasting close to 15 minutes that represents, for some, the summit of the solo literature for violin.
Bach composed his six Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin while in Köthen in 1720, at around the time he wrote such other works as the Brandenburg Concertos and solo cello suites. The Sonatas each consist of four movements in a slow-fast-slow-fast pattern; the Partitas are suites of dance movements.
Grimal concludes his contribution to the liner notes with this poetic view of Bach’s music: “Although ‘Bach cries out’, he made his peace with the world through music. He used it to describe the world, and his ‘string theory’ resolved the ontological gap between the infinitely small and infinitely large; he speaks to us of the timeless moment of the eternal beginning. God, mankind, nature, simplicity rather than complexity, and life above all. It is the contour of the world under the shining stars.”
David Grimal was born in 1973 in Paris and started to play the violin at the age of five. He won the First Prize in violin and chamber music at the Paris Conservatory in 1993. Afterwards he did postgraduate studies with Regis Pasquier, as well as with such personalities as Philipp Hirschhorn (to whom his new Bach recording is dedicated), Shlomo Mintz, and Isaac Stern.