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Complete sonatas and partitas
for solo violin BWV 1001-1006
Alois Kottmann, Violin

Order No.: Melisma 7135-2

  music of Alois Kottmann
available at www.jpc.de
Information/Reviews    page 3 of 3 

"Bach interpretations are a matter of philosophy – this is the crux of the extensive discussions of the editor Peter Mühlbauer (Höhepunkt der Geigenliteratur - 'Zenith of the violin repertoire') and the Adorno pupil Karlheinz Ludwig Funk (In Resonanz mit Bach - 'Resonating with Bach') in the booklet accompanying this double CD. Bach largely eschewed dynamic markings in his scores, causing the Romantic generations to regard them as incomplete and (especially in the case of the solo violin works) needful of supplementation - a development which reached its philosophical apogee in Busoni's virtuoso revisions and Karl Straub and Günter Ramin's expressive rituals. Subsequent anti-Romantic generations regarded this as diabolic and created an 'objective', depersonalised, possibly even expressionless stylistic ideal or sought to reduce expression to the limitations of the historical instruments as if Bach had composed exclusively for these (and as if the ideas from the fugue in BWV 1005, for instance, did not recur in his organ works).
In the present interpretation, Alois Kottmann is intent on avoiding both these errors. He is not interested in artificially eliminating expression as a means of acquiring supposed 'objectivity'; nor, though, is he looking to impose false, 'imported' expression. He finds it in the music itself, needing precious little time for the search because he follows his musical instincts, picking out the music's inherent rhetoric, its literary structures. Baroque music was the music of a period when people thought in dramatic terms (what we now call a 'cantata' was known then as a 'dramma per musica'), the rhetorical structures and figures of which suffused and influenced the music. An interpretation of Bach can therefore only benefit from an element of poetical analysis, as here we are not at all interested in determining 'correct tempi' in terms of metronome markings, rather it is crucial to identify the appropriate expression for individual passages – which may be rhythmic, emphatic, solemn or playful. (A highly arcane apprenticeship was required for the ornamentation!) In trying to find the right expression, a player of Bach, especially a rhapsodic interpreter of solo pieces, is required, like an actor, to craft a meaningful 'monodrama', a 'one-man production' complete with all the right emphases, dramatic pauses and nuances. It must be said that Alois Kottmann's interpretations keep all this in mind, conveying it directly to the listener's ears – there are developments, dramatic pauses, climaxes, a narrative flow and, throughout, an all-embracing logic; a literary 'body'. The accompanying booklet explains how he achieves multiple notes with a single action but without resorting to arpeggios, and how these pieces from Bach's period as the Kapellmeister in Köthen incorporate techniques from his time as a violinist in Weimar."