The Strad Issue: January 2008
Musicians: Maya Homburger (violin)
Composer: Bach, Guy

This is the second issue of a three-disc project that couples a Bach solo sonata and partita with one of Barry Guy’s triptych of unaccompanied violin pieces named after butterflies. Maya Homburger demonstrates her versatility and musicianship in highly commendable performances, her Antonio dalla Costa Baroque violin (1740) sounding remarkably vibrant in the resonant ambience of Böblingen’s Stadtkirche.

Homburger gives an accurate, careful account of Bach’s second sonata, balancing the interplay of internal voices in the fugue while skilfully preserving rhythmic fluency and continuity of line. She interprets Bach’s sometimes tortuously chromatic writing in the opening Grave somewhat flexibly, adding ornamentation as appropriate, and she is sublimely lyrical in the Andante. Her Allegro finale emphasises Bach’s rare dynamic indications with contrasting bowing styles.

Homburger’s thoughtfully inspirational playing continues in the second partita, her chimerical bowing producing variety of timbre and subtlety of shading. She characterises the various dance movements faithfully, although the Corrente’s long semiquaver (semiquaver note value again? or at all?) up-beat seems out of place and the Giga would benefit from more dynamic contrast. She is calmly efficient in the Sarabanda and acknowledges the dance origins of the Ciaconna, giving a performance of brisk tempo, striking detail and musical purpose.

Homburger is equally at home in Guy’s Aglais, an ethereal, through-composed piece of quasi-improvisational character named after the common European tortoiseshell butterfly. She exploits its colourful timbres to striking effect, playing sul ponticello, sul tasto and at many other contact-points, with unisons, off-unisons and stinging dissonances worthy of the nettles on which this lepidopterous insect feeds.