To celebrate his 70th birthday, Joseph Silverstein, principal guest conductor of Seattle's Northwest Chamber Orchestra, offers Bach's complete music for solo violin.
Focusing on the famed Partita No. 2 in D minor (featured on the recent chart-topping Morimur recording from violinist Christoph Poppen and the Hilliard Ensemble), Silverstein's technical assurance is never in question. He zips through the final chaconne with breathtaking perfection, and plays so cleanly that not a squeak can be heard (whereas Poppen squeaks like crazy, lacking Silverstein's polish).
Nonetheless, Silverstein's expression seems wanting when compared to outings from other artists. Partly this is due to the recording itself, whose lack of air, color, and life sabotages playing that does not consistently engage. Silverstein's opening dance movement allemande feels leaden when compared to Poppen's, and Arthur Grumiaux's famed 1961 recording was more pointed and incisive, with greater dynamic range, color, and tempo variation. Jason Serinus
Joseph Silverstein plays violin and viola in the NWCO season finale in Benaroya Hall on Sat., May 18 and Sun., May19.