Interpretations of Bach's Chaconne
March 12, 2005 3:45 PM   Subscribe

BachFilter: I've been listening to John Williams' phenomenal rendition of J.S. Bach's Chaconne. So what other must-have recordings of this masterpiece (not just violin/cello/guitar...) should I seek out?
posted by noius to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Yevgeny Kissin did a decent recording of Busoni's transcription for piano, but I hear there's another one by Horowitz that's completely unbelievable.
posted by casarkos at 4:00 PM on March 12, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, I'll look for both of them.
To expand a little on my initial question: has there been anyone 'brave' enough to transcribe this piece for unusual combinations of instruments?
posted by noius at 4:15 PM on March 12, 2005

Nathan Milstein's recording of it (on violin) is excellent. I highly recommend his recordings of Bach's partitas in general.

Also, you might want to check out Andres Segovia's version. He, I believe, was the first one to record it on guitar.
posted by epimorph at 5:39 PM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

If you're adventurous, Dominic Miller did a pop version of it on his album Shapes. He plays a shortened version on guitar, with strings/bass/drums in the background. It's kind of interesting, but predictably not very profound.
posted by epimorph at 5:46 PM on March 12, 2005

Hilary Hahn's is amazing -- doubly so, given her age.
posted by cribcage at 6:49 PM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

My first exposure came from an album called "Morimur" by the Hilliard Ensemble, and featuring Christoph Poppen. Its thesis is that a lot of Bach's works, including the Chaconne, contain hidden references to his own chorales. In particular, the theory goes, the Chaconne is a sort of memorial to Bach's deceased wife. The CD provides fragments of the chorales and instrumental pieces, first separately and then interspersed. I can't speak for any other renditions but I consider this one really beautiful. This BBC review explains it better than I can.
posted by coelecanth at 8:35 PM on March 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

On this page is Busoni playing it himself! has a whole series of piano roll-recorded music. The warning in this description notwithstanding
This and all the albums in the Masters of the Roll collection are taken from rare, even unique piano rolls from a century ago. The identity of the performer is sometimes lost. Also, a piano roll cannot exactly reproduce the intonation and voice of the performance from which it comes. EMusic Classical hopes you enjoy these treasures rescued from a time when the piano roll was the only known way to record music.
many of the albums in this series are quite amazing. I think there's a FPP somewhere in here if someone can dig up the story behind these recordings.
posted by mzurer at 9:16 PM on March 12, 2005

I second the recommendation of the Hilliards' Morimur, it's a lovely recording. I first heard the piece in an arrangement by Narciso Yepes for his classical guitar modified with 4 additional bass strings and that's the version which 'defines' the piece for me even though it was written for an instrument with only four strings.
posted by amestoy at 1:16 AM on March 13, 2005

After consulting Gramophone's guide, I bought the Arthur Grumiaux rendition recently. It's available on a single record as the complete Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin. They are phenomenal.

Thanks for the heads up on the Hilliard's Morimur. I heard it a year ago and have been looking for it ever since.
posted by Jongo at 4:27 AM on March 13, 2005 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: "Morimur" looks fascinating and should be arriving in my mail box shortly. There is so much to discover in J.S. Bach's compositions, the hidden-reference-theory only enhances my thirst for knowledge. Thanks for the great replies people, I appreciate it very much.
posted by noius at 7:47 AM on March 13, 2005

Segovia's performance is very controversial. He takes great liberties with the tempo. His protegee, Christopher Parkening has a very similar but more rhythmically orthodox performance. I like it though, like the maestro's recording, it is very romantic.

Personally my favorite performances are Pablo Cassal's and Yo Yo Ma's, both on Cello. I couldn't live without either in my collection, and I am thinking about getting Rostropovic's too.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 1:35 PM on March 13, 2005

Response by poster: I just finished listening to Morimur. It is brilliant. Really.
posted by noius at 12:13 PM on March 29, 2005

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