Jeroen de Groot: Pure Live II (Zefir Records)
By Graham Rickson, UK
Dutch violinist Jeroen de Groot’s set of Bach’s solo sonatas and partitas is a keeper, the playing expressive and incisive.
This new live album collects performances taped last September in Italy and Holland; we’re not told which works were played where, but the sound quality is consistent and the audience behaves itself. Hearing applause after each item feels entirely right; listen through headphones with eyes closed and it’s as if you’re in the room with de Groot. Bruce Lefriche’s ingenious transcription of Bach’s ubiquitous Toccata and fugue was made for Maxim Vengerov, the piece now transposed into A minor. Showy but effective, there’s a liveliness and exuberance absent from leaden organ versions and de Groot really keeps it moving. It’s followed by Bach’s Partita No. 1, the playing similarly lively. The “Presto” fourth movement is a fast-moving delight, de Groot then relaxing into a very lyrical “Sarabande.” There’s also the great BVW1004 Chaconne in a performance of alarming intensity. The close recorded balance is a plus, and the audience rightly erupts at the close.
A pair of fiendish single-movement Ysayë solo sonatas complete the disc, de Groot’s virtuosity always serving the music. There are moments in No. 3 when it’s difficult to believe that there’s just one person playing. No. 6’s habanera rhythms are nicely pointed and the abrupt close is superbly done.