Recensie David Nice, UK.
Since I met him as a fellow jury-member for the Orkestival competition of school orchestras in the Concertgebouw earlier this year - a real highlight of 2016, and I'm over the moon to have been asked back - Jeroen de Groot has released a beautifully produced two-CD set of Bach's solo sonatas and partitas. I promised him I'd set aside a morning to listen properly before we met in Amsterdam, which I did on Wednesday morning, and was delighted to announce last night how impressed I was.
This is playing you can't possibly have on in the background as mellifluous, objective Bach. De Groot writes in his booklet of how much he respects the 'untouchable' phenomenon of Henryk Szeryng. His own major teacher Herman Krebbers tended to that aspect, making him learn the Bach works by heart as part of a large repertoire - 'but it was not very clear to me what to do with it'.
Then he saw a documentary on Glenn Gould and the Goldberg Variations, which showed him the way to an individual approach. With the prize money from winning at the Oscar Back Concourse de Groot went to study with the great Sandor Vegh, linking back to a tradition which included Joachim and Liszt. Vegh's words in interview which de Groot reproduces in the booklet should be carved out for every interpreter:
Music is a creative art, but so is the interpretation of it. The expression is revived in every musical phrase, and this is different every day. There are mysterious powers, vibrations and radiations that influence my feeling and that I, humble being that I am, cannot grasp at all. I can only say I have good days and bad days.
I assume that de Groot regards the day, or days, on which he recorded the sonatas and partitas, as among the good. The sound is so centred and golden, with the instrument matched to a baroque bow, that the graded forcefulness of the playing never grates. Here he is playing the most famous 'track' of all the solo violin music, the Preludium from Partita No. 3 in E.
There's immense power of expression throughout the two discs, and I love it all - though I'd be inclined to listen in four instalments as there's so much to take on board. And I'm happy to hear it over and over again - a treat to set alongside the Christmas Day 1723 assemblage of glorious Bach on the Dunedin Consort Magnificat disc which I discovered only last week.
Original post here.