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Happy Release Day: Ciaccona – Doris Orsan

Johannes Brahms already considered it “one of the most wonderful, incomprehensible pieces of music”; Yehudi Menuhin called it “the greatest structure for solo violin that exists”, his successor Joshua Bell even “not only one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, but one of the greatest achievements of a human being in history”. We are referring to Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Ciaccona,” the fifth movement of Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004, which was probably added later – perhaps under the impression of the death of his first wife Maria Barbara in 1720. These 64 free variations on a bass theme – more commonly known by the French term “chaconne” and originally a Spanish dance – are not only almost as long as the other four movements combined. They above all established the rank of Bach’s cycle of six partitas and sonatas for solo violin as a pinnacle of violin literature, both technically and musically.

This is also how violinist Doris Orsan titled her new solo album “Ciaccona”, although of course she plays not only this movement, but the complete first two partitas by Bach. In the tradition of many great predecessors, her interpretation makes clear anew what makes Bach’s music so unique: his form is so perfect that it gives rise to an incomparable freedom; his musical thoughts are so fundamental, essential and timeless that they rise above styles and fashions and are completely absorbed in the individual expression of the one who plays them. “Bach’s music leads the performer to himself, to his own expression, which at the same time finds its universality in the music,” Orsan says. “In this sense, there is no one true Bach interpretation; his work welcomes all who set out to find it.”

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