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Yuri Liberzon proves to be a sturdy, skilled, and confident navigator through this hour-plus of intricate and emotional music on '3 Violin Sonatas by J.S. Bach' / CLASSICAL GUITAR

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BLAIR JACKSON /Editor, Classical Guitar writes...Not surprisingly, we have Andres Segovia to thank for popularizing the notion of playing J.S. Bach on the guitar. In London in May of 1928, the Maestro recorded the "Fugue" from the Sonata for Violin No. 1 (BWV 1001), a deliciously complex Baroque masterpiece, for the first time. That no doubt thrilled and challenged burgeoning guitarists who heard it on disc, but it wasn't until Segovia premiered his epic guitar version of the already-famous "Chaconne" movement from Bach's Violin Partita No. 2 (BWV 1004) in Paris on June 4, 1935-and subsequently recorded it-that mastering Bach repertoire became practically de rigeur for classical guitarists, really up to the present day. Segovia kept some Bach in his concert repertoire on and off until his death, and though the aforementioned "Fugue" and "Chaconne" were pieces he returned to and rerecorded over the decades, Segovia actually seemed to favor Bach's Cello Suites over the Violin Sonatas and Partitas. And in any case, he also eschewed playing complete multi-movement works for the most part. That "Fugue" and "Chaconne" are still often played in isolation; they're among Bach's "Greatest Hits" by now.

It goes without saying that the pieces themselves are all magnificent. Each of the three sonatas has four movements, but the Fuga being placed in the second position is the only element shared by all three. As you might expect, the fugues are marvelously constructed pieces that seem to be simultaneously building and unfolding, and they require intense concentration from the guitarist to keep their spiraling momentum from unraveling. Fortunately, Liberzon is more than up to the task. Segovia's choice notwithstanding (never argue with the Maestro!), I particularly adore the expansive Fuga from the Sonata in C Major (1005). I also love the way all three sonatas start with pensive, lyrical, "slow" movements-adagios in 1001 and 1005, and grave in 1003; it's where Bach's deeply spiritual side finds its strongest expression. Other engrossing moments include the lovely little Siciliana in 1001 that leads to that sonata's delightful, burbling Presto conclusion; the beautifully sad Largo in 1005; and the riveting and relentless Allegro that concludes 1003-one of my absolute favorite Bach movements.

Throughout, Liberzon proves to be a sturdy, skilled, and confident navigator through this hour-plus of intricate and emotional music. Kudos, too, to Liberzon's co-producer and engineer, Nahuel Bronzini for such a clear and present recording.

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