...(Ngwenyama) etches the architectural aspects of each movement with care...she provides solidly shaped music of bold, mesmerising character.
...an extremely engaging performance...
J. S. Bach Partitas Nos. 1 and 2 (S. 1002 & 1004)
Nokuthula Ngwenyama - viola
Michael Long - guitar
Notes by A. Levesque
EDI Records is proud to present a truly breakthrough recording of two of the three partitas by J. S. Bach (1685-1750), originally for solo violin. J. S. Bach managed to complete all of what he termed Sei Solo a Violino senza Basso accompagnato in 1720, and he would be pleased at the form they have evolved into here. It is indeed fortunate the manuscript of these works was re-discovered in 1814 in St. Petersburg among a stack of old paper to be used as wrappings in a butter shop!
The arrangements debuted on this album highlight the creative understanding each of these interpreters has for Bach's music. As Paul Affelder says:
Not the least among the wonders of this miraculous music is the immense range of interpretive possibilities it opens up to the performer. No two musicians approach these compositions in the same way, and each performance evokes a different response on the part of the individual listener, whose complete concentration and broadest imagination are required for proper participation in a unique and rewarding musical experience.
Guitarist Michael Long opens the CD with the Allemande from Partita No. 1. Recipient of the Premio Roma, Long has an illustrious recording career. His acclaimed performances on the Koch International, Helicon, Solaris, Soundset, and Courante labels have earned him recognition worldwide, and his musical appearances extend from North and South America to Europe, Asia, and Africa.
According to the Washington Post Nokuthula Ngwenyama "pours out serene melodies - elegantly phrased - and virtuoso fireworks she makes seem easy." EDI presents Ngwenyama in the Doubles following the dance movements performing arrangements for viola scordatura. Scordatura means that Ngwenyama tunes the typically placed C-string down to a B. This makes for a fascinating sound and imaginatively touching rendition of the work.
Ngwenyama then performs Partita No. 2 a fifth lower than the original, betraying more guttural bass than Bach might have imagined. The recording pleases Bach-lovers and novices alike, and its novelty in no way detracts from the quality of music EDI is proud to present to the record-buying public.