An ancient melody sparks a lively response

Sebastian Bohren: La Folia

The Strad Issue: September 2022

Description: An ancient melody sparks a lively response

Musicians: Sebastian Bohren (violin) CHAARTS Chamber Artists, Stringendo Zürich/Jens Lohmann

Works: Music by Kreisler, Vitali, Paradis, Corelli, Respighi and Tartini

Catalogue number: AVIE AV2513

This violin and string orchestra programme from Sebastian Bohren, formerly of the Stradivari Quartet, has multiple influences: the enduringly popular La folia theme; the violinists who favoured Romantic transcriptions of Baroque repertoire; and love of playing a great instrument, which for Bohren right now is a 1761 Guadagnini. It’s been a real labour of love, too, because, having recorded the whole with CHAARTS Chamber Artists, he felt moved to re-record Kreisler’s Praeludium and Allegro, Vitali’s G minor Chaconne and Paradis’s Sicilienne, with Stringendo Zürich.

The results are palpably imbued with love, with attentive, lucid-textured support from both ensembles. I sense the violin’s sustained tonal intensity isn’t just down to the Guadagnini’s notable brightness, but also to the consistency of Bohren’s own sound. Strikingly, for Respighi’s Pastorale he reverts to the softer-toned 1710 ‘King George’ Strad he played with the Stradivari Quartet, yet he retains a similar degree of intensity. Ultimately this is perhaps an album more for cherry-picking than for listening right through.