Dezember 2022

Bach x Ysaÿe

Partiten und Sonaten

CD 1

Violin Partita No. 3 in E Major, BWV 1006
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
1I. Preludio3:50
2II. Loure5:53
3III. Gavotte en Rondeau3:24
4IV. Menuet I1:42
5V. Menuet II1:35
6VI. Bourée1:37
7VII. Gigue1:48
Violin Sonata No. 4 in E Minor, op. 27
Eugène Ysaÿe (1858 – 1931)
8I. Allemanda: Lento maestoso5:31
9II. Sarabande: Quasi Lento3:31
10III. Finale: Presto ma non troppo4:22
Violin Partita No. 1 in B Minor, BWV 1002
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
11I. Allemanda6:18
12II. Double2:41
13III. Corrente3:20
14IV. Double: Presto4:35
15V. Sarabande4:00
16VI. Double3:31
17VII. Tempo di Borea3:34
18VIII. Double3:37

CD 2

Violin Sonata No. 2 in A Minor, op. 27
Eugène Ysaÿe (1858 – 1931)
1I. Obsession: Prélude. Poco vivace3:21
2II. Malinconia: Poco Lento2:40
3III. Danse des ombres: Sarabande (Lento)4:27
4IV. Les Furies: Allegro furioso4:09
5Violin Sonata No. 3 in D Minor, op. 27: Ballade
Eugène Ysaÿe (1858 – 1931)
Violin Partita No. 2 in D Minor, BWV 1004
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750)
6I. Allemanda4:30
7II. Corrente2:45
8III. Sarabanda4:02
9IV. Giga4:16
10V. Ciaccona14:22

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Three years ago (The Mandolin Journal, February 2020, p. 32) I reviewed Lotte Nuria Adler’s extraordinary first recording of solo mandolin, Mosaik. At the time Lotte was still at university in Germany, and clearly one of the best classical mandolinists in the world.[1] The pandemic did not stop her, at least, not very much. In the interim she completed her MA with Caterina Lichtenberg (at HfMT Köln) and found time to record her second CD – or rather, double CD, as there are 28 tracks on it, approximately 2 hours (!) of recorded music. After listening to her new recording, she’s become my personal favorite on classical mandolin, a reference standard. I say this in full acknowledgement of and respect for Caterina, Lotte’s wonderful long-term mentor and one of my favorite players, and the other great German (and American, Australian, British, Italian, Japanese, and on and on) mandolinists who came before. Whatever we do, we stand on the shoulders of giants.

As is obvious from the title, Lotte’s new recording draws on the repertoire for solo violin. The three partitas are Bach’s, BWV 1002, 1004, and 1006. The recording is bookended by the “Preludium” to BWV1006 to open, and the “Chaconne” from BWV1004 to close.

Solo Bach on plucked strings goes back to Bach’s time, and on mandolin, to the early twentieth century. Some of my deepest musical experiences of Bach on plucked strings are performances by the great modern lutenists – Paul O’Dette, Nigel North, Hopkinson Smith and more recently, Evangelina Mascardi – and on the classical guitar – Manuel Barrueco, Julian Bream, John Williams, among others. For me, the quality of tone, phrasing, dynamics, and, above all, musical intelligence puts Lotte’s Bach on the same level as O’Dette and the others — which, to my ear, puts Lotte’s beyond any previous performance on mandolin. The modern German mandolin was designed, in part, to be lute like in its texture and sound. I know of no better validation of the design than this recording.

As stupendous is her Bach, the true revelation is her Ysaÿe. The Belgian violinist (1858 – 1931) wrote his “Six Sonatas for Solo Violin, Op. 27” in July 1923, after hearing a performance of BWV1001 by Joseph Szigeti. Ysaÿe’s intent was to use the same idiom as Bach, but to reflect the evolution of musical language, such as whole tone scales and dissonance, and advances in virtuoso violin technique since Bach’s time. The six works were dedicated to Ysaÿe’s professional colleagues – Szigeti (Sonata No. 1, in G minor), Jacques Thibaud (Sonata No. 2, in A minor), George Enescu (Sonata No. 3 in D minor, “Ballade”), Fritz Kreisler (Sonata No. 4, in E minor), Mathieu Crickboom (Sonata No. 5, in G major), and Manuel Quiroga (Sonata No. 6, in E major). The sonatas quickly became core violin repertoire and the list of violinists who have performed and recorded them reads like a “Who’s Who” of the great modern players. Lotte performs the second, third, and fourth sonatas on her new recording.

In recent years classical guitarists have begun playing Ysaÿe, along with some brave, respectable performances by well-known, and not so-well-known mandolinists. Again, for me, Lotte’s Ysaÿe is at an entirely different level. The usual dig against Ysaÿe (or other modern works for solo violin, such as Hindemith or Reger) on plucked strings is that the violin is better in expressing the intensity of the slow passages and the bow better than the plectrum for the fast, hyper-virtuosic passages. For me, the intensity comes through in Lotte’s sound, deep and desolate when required, and her tempi and technique give no quarter when the music calls for it. Recently (The Mandolin Journal, August 2021, pp. 26-27) I reviewed Chris Thile’s pathbreaking recording of the final movement of the Bartok sonata for solo violin, something I heretofore thought impossible. I would have said the same about Ysaÿe, prior to Lotte’s recording. Adler and Thile are like night and day when it comes to mandolin sound, but her Ysaÿe and his Bartok set new standards for our instrument. Just on sheer technical grounds, let alone musical, the possibilities that both create for future expression on the mandolin, is startling.

For now, hard copies of the CD do not appear to be readily available (except perhaps at one of Lotte’s concerts) but the recording can be downloaded from Amazon Music at a bargain price (currently, $8.99) or streamed from Spotify. If you wish to keep up with Lotte’s musical activities, her website is

[1] In 2018 I had the experience, truly humbling, of playing a solo concert at the Eurofestival Zupfmusik in Bruchsal, Germany, directly after and on the same stage as Lotte’s incandescent duo performance with her superb classical guitarist, Emma Schützmann.

Margo, Robert (2023). Feature Review: Lotte Nuria Adler, Bach x Ysaÿe: Partitas & Sonatas. Available from Amazon Music (MP3 download) or Spotify (streaming). The Mandolin Journal, XL(1), 22.