J.S. Bach

Recommended (or not) Recordings

Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin

Main Performer
or Conductor:
Benedict Cruft
Individual Works:Disc 1:

Partita No. 3 in E, BWV 1006
Sonata No. 2 in A minor, BWV 1003
Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004

Disc 2:

Sonata No. 1 in G minor, BWV 1001
Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002
Sonata No. 3, in C, BWV 1005

Format:Compact Disc
Record Label:Tononi
Catalog Number:TON-001
Year Released/Recorded:1998
Total Playing Time:156 minutes
Related Web Site:http://www.tononirecords.com/
Comments:Fitch O'Connell said:

I was not a fan of the Bach unaccompanied violin pieces, even though I had experienced them in several guises. They always seemed to me to be too austere, too far removed from any world that I knew. Then I stumbled across this recording of Benedict Cruft's playing, almost by accident. It was the extraordinary quality of the sound that first hit me. The combination of the warm tone of the instrument itself (a Tononi) and the wonderful acoustics of Binham Priory changed my attitude towards these hard diamonds immediately.

Cruft's well thought out bowing schemes only added pleasure to what, for me, had been sadly neglected pieces, and suddenly I find I have been given a new level of musical experience. I, for one, can only thank Benedict Cruft for introducing me to a new friend. I suggest you try the same treatment; it can only do you good!

Review by Jan Hanford:

Performance: exquisite
Recording: perfect

Benedict Cruft's performance is extraordinary. His phrasing brings out the melodies in ways I've never heard before. Passages that have often sounded awkward to me in other recordings are now clear and lyrical. The sound of his violin is outstanding. Where some other violinists chop and screech their way through these difficult works, his violin sings. This can partly be attributed to his use of a 1715 violin in modern set-up and a very early modern style Tourte bow but, even more so, to his astonishing technique. His playing flows with subtle dynamic variation, articulation, passion and, most importantly, gentleness like no other performer I've heard.

In his liner notes, he explains has been performing these works live for the past 12 years and, to re-learn them, used a fascimile of Bach's manuscript (given to him by the American composer, Bernard Herrmann). Therefore, he follows Bach's original bowings and, where the bowing is incomplete, makes his own decisions. This seems extraordinary to me and increases my admiration for Mr. Cruft's musicianship.

Recorded in Binham Prioriy in Northern Norfolk, the resonance is rich without ever being overpowering.

Bach's Sonatas and Partitas take on new life in his hands, and are filled with joy and exceptional beauty. This recording now takes the position as my favorite of these works.

Note that you can purchase the cd directly through the Tononi Records web site at:


Acknowledgements:Thank you to the following for submitting this recording and for your comments:
  • Fitch O'Connell
And from the collection of Jan Hanford.
Date First Submitted:05/05/2001