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GRAMOPHONE (10/2022)
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Reviewer :
Mark Seow


Bojan Čiĉiĉ and The Illyria Consort bring us two discs that cover the 12 sonatas that make up Johann Jakob Walther's Scherzi da violino solo con il basso continuo per l'organo ò cimbalo, accompagnabile anche con una viola ò leuto. Wiebke Thormählen's booklet notes sell this to us as 'virtuoso violin' music. The issue is that Čiĉiĉ makes it sound so easy: a boyish nonchalance characterises many of the performances, and this is mostly very attractive. The Sarabande and Gigue from the Suite in A are delightful: aerated and animated, and phrased with the uncluttered clarity of a Japanese garden. has mastered the illusion of musician as conduit. The music just seems to pourout of him, and his playing conveys that he has to do very little to make it work so well. Yet Čiĉiĉ is doing plenty. His excellent and always stylish ornamentation is the most obvious evidence of this. There's not even the trace of wet ink in these embellishments: rather, they are thrown out as corporeal gestures - a flick of the hair here, a shrug of the shoulders there - and it's enviously spontaneous and carefree.


Yet I prefer the movements injected with a bit more identity, and even these are sophisticatedly clothed in simplicity. The Arpeggiando con arcate sciolte from the Sonata in C is fresh and buoyant, as you would expect from the bowed figurations. But listen closer and the whole thing is electrified with a subtle spark, the harmonies fired through with an extremely clever level of tension. There's a quiet intensity to the Aria in E minor, too, the last sonata of the album (and one of three premiere recordings across the two discs). For its opening movement, C?i?ic´ mixes suaveness with rhapsodic melancholy. Its closing note is coloured with the most gorgeous of bow vibratos - a hint of shiver. This is the boldest and most heartfelt playing on the recording.




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