Mikhail Pochekin
Bach: “Sei Solo” — The Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo

Aula der Universität, Zurich, 2024-03-22

4.0-star rating

2024-04-10 — Original posting

Mikhail Pochekin spielt die 6 Sonaten und Partiten für Violine Solo — Zusammenfassung

Vor sechs Jahren (2017/2018) hat der 1990 in Moskau geborene Geiger Mikhail Pochekin (Михаил Почекин) die Sechs Sonaten und Partiten für Violine solo (Sei Solo), BWV 1001 – 1006, von Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750) auf CD eingespielt. Ich habe diese Aufnahme im Rahmen eines ausführlichen Quervergleichs mit mehr als zwei Dutzend Gesamteinspielungen besprochen.

Selten kann man diesen Höhepunkt des Violinrepertoires in seiner Gesamtheit im Konzert erleben. Die deutsche Weltklasse-Geigerin Isabelle Faust (*1972) hat 2019 ihr Können eindrucksvoll unter Beweis gestellt, indem sie die “Sei Solo” an einem Abend in zwei Rezitalen aufführte (2019-06-02). Letzten Monat (2024-03-22) hat sich nun Mikhail Pochekin der gleichen Aufgabe gestellt und die gesamten “Sei Solo” in der Aula der Universität Zürich aufgeführt. Auch er musste diese Aufgabe auf zwei Rezitale aufteilen, wobei er die von Bach gewählte Reihenfolge beibehielt. Nach dem ersten Rezital um 17:00 Uhr folgten die musikalischen Höhepunkte im zweiten Teil (19:30 Uhr), in der Partita Nr.2 in d-moll, BWV 1004, mit der berühmten Ciaccona, und in der Sonate Nr.3 in C-dur mit ihrer hochkomplexen, vierstimmigen (!) Doppelfuge.

In den beiden letztgenannten Sätzen (Chaconne und Doppelfuge) fand auch Mikhail Pochekin zu persönlichen, beeindruckenden Höchstleistungen des Abends, zu denen man dem Geiger nur gratulieren kann.

Table of Contents


Venue, Date & TimeAula der Universität, Zurich, 2024-03-22 17:00h & 19:30h
Series / TitleMusik an ETHZ und UZH — „All Sonatas and Partitas for Solo Violin“ in two Recitals
OrganizerMusical Discovery
Reviews from related eventsRecitals in the Main Convention Hall at Zurich University
Previous Concerts in the Series “Musik an der ETH und UZH
Mikhail Pochekin performing Bach’s “Sei Solo” — Part of a Comparison Review
Bach’s Complete “Sei Solo” in Concert, with Isabelle Faust (2019-06-02)
Bach’s “Sei Solo” in Concert (Selected pieces & movements)

Johann Sebastian Bach
Johann Sebastian Bach


The March concert in the series “Musik an ETHZ und UZH” was dedicated to music by Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 – 1750). The program consisted of the Sei Solo“, the Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo, BWV 1001 – 1006. These six compositions exceed the amount of music for a single performance event. Therefore, sensibly, the program was wisely split into two parts. Both segments took place on the same day, but with a 1.5-hour break between the two recitals:

As for the repertoire, this was a “déjà-vu” concert experience for me: I have already reported on a complete concert performance of Bach’s “Sei Solo” on 2019-06-02, by the German violinist Isabelle Faust (*1972, see also Wikipedia). A direct comparison of Isabelle Faust’s live performance with the one in this recital would be unfair, as Faust blongs to an earlier generation: she is a world-class artist at the height of her career. Nevertheless, I will refer to that earlier experience in the text below, where appropriate, without intending to produce a direct rating confrontation of this recital with Isabelle Faust’s concert performance.

The Artist: Mikhail Pochekin

The Russian violinist Mikhail Pochekin (Михаил Почекин, *1990) grew up in a musical family. His father is a luthier, his mother a violin teacher. His older brother Ivan Pochekin (*1987, see also Wikipedia), with whom Mikhail also forms a duo, plays both the violin and the viola. Mikhail received his first violin lessons at the age of 5. His studies took him to Cologne, Munich, Basel, Madrid, and Salzburg. Among his most important teachers were Ana Chumachenco (*1945), Viktor Tretiakov (*1946), and Rainer Schmidt (*1964). The artist has launched an international career as soloist and chamber musician. Not only Ana Chumachenko, but also Christian Tetzlaff (*1966) have had a great influence on Mikhail Pochekin’s musical performance and personality. Currently, his concert activities focus on Europe (mainly Germany) and Russia. For full details of the artist’s biography, please visit his Website.

Mikhail Pochekin has not only successfully launched a career as concert artist and chamber musician—he is also building up a discography. One cornerstone among his recordings is the one with Bach’s “Sei Solo from 2017/2018, which I have discussed in detail in the context of a larger comparison, see also below. Although this recording now dates back 6 years, I think it is fair to assume that Mikhail Pochekin’s interpretation has not evolved dramatically over the past years. Therefore, my remarks below should be regarded as complementary to those in my comparison posts (the above biographical paragraph is taken from the comparison summary). They may be sketchier than my usual reviews.

Mikhail Pochekin @ Zurich University, 2024-03-22 (© Rolf Kyburz, all rights reserved)


In his 2018 recording of Bach’s “Sei Solo“, Mikhail Pochekin played on a 1720 (modernized) violin by Francesco Gobetti (1675 – 1723), Venice, with metal (& metal-clad) strings; Tourte-type modern bow by Eugène Sartory (1871 – 1946).

Here, however, Mikhail Pochekin’s violin clearly looked like a new instrument. In fact, after the concert, Mikhail Pochekin confirmed my suspicion that the instrument he played here had been built by his father. I could only congratulate him (and his father) for this beautiful and well-balanced result of his father’s craftsmanship: one should by no means assume that new(er) violins are inferior to 17th/18th century Italian instruments. Of course, my listening experience does not provide an absolute measure for the instrument’s quality, let alone indicate how it compares to 18th century Italian instruments. All I can say is that (in the given acoustic setting) I did not perceive any obvious flaws in the instrument’s sonority, balance, response and projection.


In addition to his 2017/2018 recording of Bach’s “Sei Solo“, BWV 1001 – 1006 (see below), Mikhail Pochekin has made (or participated in) several recordings, all of which are respectable achievements (some of these recordings are only available on streaming platforms):

  • 2017: “The Pochekin Brothers: The Unity of Opposites” (with Ivan Pochekin): Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756 – 1791):, Duo for Violin and Viola in G major, K.423; Johann Michael Haydn (1737 – 1806), Duo for Violin and Viola in C major, MH 335; Reinhold Glière (1875 – 1956), 12 Duos for 2 Violins, op.49 (1909); Sergei Prokofiev (1891 – 1953), Sonata for 2 Violins in C major, op.56 (1932).
  • 2021: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Violin Concerto No.5 in A major, K.219; Sinfonia Concertante in E♭ major, K.364 (with Ivan Pochekin, viola)
  • 2022: “Romantic Violin Concertos“: Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809 – 1847): Violin Concerto in E minor, op.64; Max Bruch (1838 – 1920): Violin Concerto No.2 in D minor, op.28
  • 2023: Antonín Dvořák (1841 – 1904), “Complete Works for Violin and Orchestra“: Violin Concerto in A minor, op.53; Romance in F minor, op.11; Mazurek in E minor, op.49

A Rare Event and Opportunity

Bach’s “Sei Solo“, BWV 1001 – 1006 form the core of a professional violinist’s repertoire. Solo recitals often include one or two of the sonatas and partitas. In addition, individual movements are often selected as encores in solo recitals, or also in orchestral concerts, e.g., after a violin concerto performance. Performances of the completeSei Solo“, are a rare event. The sum of Bach’s “Sei Solo” takes about two hours or more. These compositions include very substantial technical challenges (e.g. the polyphony in the (almost) monstrous fugues in the three sonatas, or in the famous Chaconne. As mentioned above, it’s more than a violinist can possibly manage in a single session.

Of the well over 400 concerts that I covered, there were 13 performances featuring works from Bach’s “Sei Solo“. However, this was only the second performance of the complete set”: first with Isabelle Faust on 2019-06-02, and now this one, with Mikhail Pochekin. Both these artists split their performance into two consecutive recitals on the same day.

Setting, General Remarks

For each of the compositions, I’m referring to my remarks on Mikhail Pochekin’s recording of Bach’s “Sei Solo” in the relevant section of my major comparison project. Note, however, that I have not re-checked those earlier comments now. I wanted these comments to be unbiased and independent of the comparison experience. Overlaps and duplications therefore are possible and coincidental.

Not surprisingly for a mid-week event starting at 17:00h, the first of the two recitals only had a rather small audience. I was pleased to see that the second recital, which started at 19:30h after a longer intermission, attracted a much larger audience. As usual for concerts in the University’s main convention hall (Aula), I took a seat at the front of the right-side lateral block, so that I could take unobstructed photos.

Concert & Review

Sonata No.1 for Violin solo in G minor, BWV 1001

The Composition

For general comments on Bach’s Sonata for solo Violin No.1 see the description in my extended comparison post. Here, I’ll just list the movements:

  1. Adagio
  2. Fuga (Allegro)
  3. Siciliana
  4. Presto

The Performance

As indicated above, I consider the following comments to be complementary to those on Mikhail Pochekin’s CD recording.

I. Adagio

Calm flow, mellow (near-legato) articulation, smooth sonority (as expected for a modern instrument and bow), clean and firm in the intonation. Mikhail Pochekin used a harmonious, moderate / unobtrusive vibrato. My general impression was that of an introverted, if not slightly reserved beginning: the artist did not show off or try to impress with big musical gestures. Was it perhaps the small size of the audience (in this first recital) that caused the performance to be rather cautious? Or did the magnitude of the task of performing the entire Sei Solo instill respect? Towards the end of the movement, Mikhail Pochekin used a few, well-fitting additional ornaments. These aren’t really necessary in Bach’s highly ornamented movement. Nevertheless, one could see them as signs of adaptation to audience and acoustics, of growing self-confidence and comfort in the recital?

II. Fuga (Allegro)

Traditional interpretations often make Bach’s fugues sound austere, if not harsh, rigid. Not so in Mikhail Pochekin’s performance: in line with the Adagio, the artist kept the articulation mellow, gentle, relatively broad, maintaining a calm, unexcited flow. Triple and quadruple stop chords remained harmonious and integrated into the flow. Also the dynamics were controlled, harmonious, differentiated and subtle at all times, supporting the long phrases, the big arches. Occasionally, Mikhail Pochekin allowed for subtle accelerations across a longer exposition or episode (e.g., around bar 16, or in the episode at bar 42ff), but he essentially maintained the initial, calm flow, especially up to the climax in bar 63. The subsequent episode was particularly gentle, even intimate, with subtle agogics—beautiful! The final exposition / fugato transitioned harmoniously into the final segment, which evolved from a coda into a gentle / natural cadenza and conclusion.

III. Siciliana

Warm, expressive, harmonious, mellow, gentle in dynamics and phrasing. I was pleased to note that Mikhail Pochekin kept the vibrato at bay. My only minor quibble: occasionally—especially in the demisemiquaver runs in bars 6 and 8—I was hoping for a little more rhythmic flexibility / freedom. Nevertheless: a beautiful movement, indeed!

IV. Presto

Fluid / fluent and again smooth / mellow in the articulation, focusing on the big phrases / arches (rather than dissecting phrases into motifs / “words”). Yet, there was always room for expression and agogics, and the artist avoided a mechanical / purely virtuosic appearance. I liked how Mikhail Pochekin immediately regained the momentum at the double bar, by inserting a short, descending figure as transition back to the beginning of the first part. Although strictly linear (with hidden polyphony only), the movement is very virtuosic, even challenging: the artist was operating at the limits (maybe a bit too fast?), at a point where there were occasional (rare, slight) inaccuracies / superficialities in articulation / intonation. Too bad the second part was not repeated. However, given the magnitude of the task in this double recital, this decision is understandable.

Rating: ★★★½

My spontaneous, overall impression was that the performance was a bit “on the smooth / gentle side”. At least in parts, it could have been somewhat more articulate, maybe occasionally more aggressive, and perhaps more daring?

Partita No.1 for Violin solo in B minor, BWV 1002

The Composition

For general comments on Bach’s Partita for solo Violin No.1 see the description in my extended comparison post. Here, I’ll just list the movements:

  1. Allemanda – Double
  2. Corrente – Double (Presto)
  3. Sarabande – Double
  4. Tempo di Borea – Double

The Performance

As indicated above, I consider the following comments to be complementary to those on Mikhail Pochekin’s CD recording.

I. Allemanda – Double

With its pronounced, punctuated texture, the Allemanda contrasted sharply with the preceding sonata. In general, Mikhail Pochekin avoided softening the rhythmic contours. Only the occasional, very slight (spontaneous?) acceleration in descending figures such as in bar 2 momentarily seemed to soften the firmness, the punctuated rhythm. Mikhail Pochekin presented a lively clair-obscur of accented and soft, mellow passages—the latter mainly in the triplet segments. In the repeat of the first part, the artist added numerous, exquisite and fitting ornaments: very nice! It’s a pity that we couldn’t enjoy the same for part 2.

The Double followed attacca. It added both complement and contrast, with gentle, light and flowing lines, using subtle agogics and dynamics. This time, the repeat included only very few (but well-fitting) additional ornaments, so as not to disrupt the flow of the semiquavers.

II. Corrente – Double (Presto)

Diligent in dynamics, phrasing and articulation. The unslurred quavers appeared as light staccato / spiccato. The repeat seemed even more careful. Here, the few added ornaments were subtle, if not inconspicuous—natural and well integrated. The second part initially returned to more grip, which in turn highlighted the subtlety in the sudden transition to bar 49: the beginning of an intimate section up to bar 60. The return of the initial motif felt like a recapitulation, leading into a harmonious conclusion.

Again, the Double (Presto) followed without interruption: virtuosic, fast up to the limit—but still clean. Perhaps a little too fast and restless? And too smooth, at least compared to performances with gut strings and baroque bows…

III. Sarabande – Double

A calm, melodious flow, double- and triple stop chords well integrated, the vibrato unobtrusive and harmonious. Here, the first part is short—too short to enjoy the artist’s added ornaments!

The Double to the Sarabanda stayed close to the latter’s tempo. Despite a similar pace, the contrast could hardly be bigger: no arpeggiated chords, but a calm, serene flow of quasi-legato quaver triplets: wonderful—especially the transition back to the beginning, in bar 8. Unexcited dynamics also in the second part—just a few highlights / spotlights on selected, short motifs. Subtle!

IV. Tempo di Borea – Double

The Bourrée (Borea): resolute, firm staccato chords, but not devoid of gentle, intimate moments with pronounced agogics. The Double (again attacca): playful, serene, luminous, highlighting the purity of the sound of Mikhail Pochekin’s violin, its excellent projection and sonority.

Rating: ★★★★

Here again, and throughout the entire recital, Mikhail Pochekin consistently omitted all second repeats. As noted for the Sonata No.1, this decision is understandable—though here, the omission was much more substantial, affecting every movement (rather than just the final movement, as in the Sonata No.1). Moreover, it deprived the listener of the artist’s additional and personal ornamentation in (second) repeats.

Sonata No.2 for Violin solo in A minor, BWV 1003

The Composition

For general comments on Bach’s Sonata for solo Violin No.2 see the description in my extended comparison post. Here, I’ll just list the movements:

  1. Grave
  2. Fuga
  3. Andante
  4. Allegro

The Performance

As indicated above, I consider the following comments to be complementary to those on Mikhail Pochekin’s CD recording.

I. Grave

With each piece among the “Sei Solo“, the technical and musical challenges seem to increase, culminating in the famous Chaconne, and in the third Sonata. The opening Grave in Sonata No.2 is filled to the brim with written-out ornamentation. The note values range from crotchets down to hemidemisemiquavers, and the main difficulty is to bind those into coherent phrases, to maintain a harmonious flow. Indeed, the listening experience seemed to confirm that this was the most challenging movement yet. Mikhail Pochekin’s vibrato often felt a bit nervous, phrasing and the flow weren’t always as compelling as in the previous works. In particular, the artist wasn’t as successful in using rhythmic freedom to integrate the ornaments into natural musical phrases. However, there were some very nice details, such as the occasional retreat into ppp, or the subtlety of the pppp closure.

II. Fuga

The fugue followed attacca. It is likely technically more demanding than the Grave movement—but not really a challenge for Mikhail Pochekin’!’s technical skills and reserves. As already in the first fugue, the artist maintained careful articulation and a natural tone, avoiding harshness, shaping big arches and polyphonic climaxes. Actually, I felt that some climaxes, or re-entries into a new exposition could easily have been a bit more dramatic, in order to create more clarity in the structure, in the distinction between the fugue expositions and episodes. Having said that: Mikhail Pochekin presented a masterful, “integrated” interpretation. My previous suggestions were primarily intended to help the listener grasp the complex structure of this masterpiece.

III. Andante

I liked the distinction between the gentle staccato accompaniment and the legato melody in the top voice. And again, the repeat was embellished a with several nice, well-fitting ornaments and variations. My main quibble here: occasionally, the vibrato (also in the accompaniment, interestingly) was rather nervous (though not very strong). Still, it’s one of the most beautiful movements in Bach’s “Sei Solo“—too bad (once again!) the second repeat was omitted.

IV. Allegro

Mikhail Pochekin avoided monotony in this movement, by using subtle variations between resolute détaché and a very light staccato (the latter especially for soft / echo segments). The tempo occasionally tended to run away very slightly. This wasn’t too conspicuous, but it did cause the flow to lose some tension and rigor. On the other hand, the movement could perhaps have been more playful (even lighter?).

Rating: ★★★½

Partita No.2 for Violin solo in D minor, BWV 1004

The Composition

For general comments on Bach’s Partita for solo Violin No.2 see the description in my extended comparison post. Here, I’ll just list the movements:

  1. Allemanda
  2. Corrente
  3. Sarabanda
  4. Giga
  5. Ciaccona

The Performance

As indicated above, I consider the following comments to be complementary to those on Mikhail Pochekin’s CD recording.

I. Allemanda

My immediate impression at the beginning of the second part of the recital was one of “Bigger”. Was it that the first recital led to more self-confidence on the part of the artist, or was it perhaps that the now larger audience lifted the artist’s spirit? Specifically, Mikhail Pochekin’s playing in the Allemanda seemed to have more grip, while at the same time enjoying more rhythmic freedom, offering more narrative through stronger agogics—”much better”, more coherent, more natural, overall. There were tempo variations here as well—but not in the form of a runaway tempo, rather all deliberate and “with a purpose”.

II. Corrente

Again: more outgoing, more confident—and more daring. I also felt that the violinist used a wider dynamic and expressive bandwidth, shaping phrases down to the smallest motifs. Despite the strong rhythmic contours in this movement, Mikhail Pochekin managed to integrate some very well-adapted ornaments into the (first) repeat.

III. Sarabanda

Beautiful, with lovely ornaments and variations in the repeat, and with expressive excursions down to a fine pianissimo. But alas: the first part is short, and we did not get to hear the longer second part in ornamented form! Nevertheless: the subtlety, the refinement in the final bars, gently fading to pppp, are unsurpassed.

IV. Giga

Fast, fluid, outgoing, never purely mechanical, with differentiated dynamics. The repeat even has some ornamentation added in the initial, quaver-based segment. A disadvantage of a modern instrument with a metal (E) string is that the open E string occasionally stands out from the flow, with its metallic, whirring sound (e.g., in bars 14/15). An instrument with gut strings would offer a more balanced / integrated sonority.

V. Ciaccona

An astounding performance! One could feel how much consideration and reflection went into this interpretation: careful and rich in dynamics and phrasing, every phrase, every motif was diligently shaped in articulation and agogics, down to “words and syllables”. Mikhail Pochekin’s attention to detail in articulation and dynamics (e.g., in the semiquaver segment in bars 37 – 56) was amazing, as was his diligent dynamic balance in places where the melody moved into the middle voice. As the note values decreased in the variation with the demisemiquaver runs (bars 65ff), the performance turned more outgoing. In bars 77ff, the performance seemed to “turn inward”, retreating to pp / ppp, ending in the very soft, gentle, intimate, introverted arpeggio segment—almost down to a whisper. The arpeggio gradually built up to a grandiose first climax (bars 112 – 120), full of passion and lifeblood.

“Chorale” Section

The remaining D minor bars felt like gentle, gradual easing, relaxation, liberation leading up to the central D major “chorale” section. Needless to say that that latter segment was full of warmth, intimacy, gradually bloossoming. It felt like a song of love and devotion, a rich story, fond memories: the Chaconne is said to have been written in memory of Bach’s first wife, Maria Barbara Bach (1684 – 1720). The chorale section culminates in a long, jubilant climax and an arpeggiated coda, which Mikhail Pochekin ended with a short fioritura (from b” down to d”).

The music then suddenly turns back into the harsh reality of D minor. This harshness, however, only lasted for the first accent, which was immediately followed by an ornament that caused the drama to transcend into a memory, a reminiscence full of warmth and expression, a gentle look back from another world. Formally, the final build-up starts in bar 229. Mikhail Pochekin was initially holding back the volume, always carefully articulating the melody below the a’ ostinato. Only when approaching the semiquaver triplets (bar 241), the violinist allowed the music to transcend into a broad, final climax: redemption, in which even the brief return of the initial Ciaccona theme was mere memory. Beautiful, magnificent: the audience was stunned, moved, enraptured—it took a while for the applause to set in!

Overall Rating: ★★★★½

Sonata No.3 for Violin solo in C major, BWV 1005

The Composition

For general comments on Bach’s Sonata for solo Violin No.3 see the description in my extended comparison post. Here, I’ll just list the movements:

  1. Adagio
  2. Fuga
  3. Largo
  4. Allegro assai

The Performance

As indicated above, I consider the following comments to be complementary to those on Mikhail Pochekin’s CD recording.

I. Adagio

With this, Bach created yet another beautiful, slow movement! Mikhail Pochekin chose a solemn, calm pace (which, in my opinion, could have been even slower). Unfortunately, the (almost ubiquitous) vibrato often disturbed the peaceful atmosphere, especially in pp sections, such as bars 13ff, where the vibration was particularly nervous. This is a movement that would definitely benefit from performances with little vibrato—or none at all.

II. Fuga

Mikhail Pochekin played the fugue theme with broad, quasi-legato articulation. I appreciate the attempt to avoid the harsh, austere manner in which this is often presented, especially in early, traditional interpretations. However, this proves impossible to sustain in fugue expositions that are full of triple- and quadruple-stop (arpeggiated) chords. With that, the movement lacked the ultimate consequence on the part of the fugue theme. The secondary theme and most of the quaver figures in the episodes were staccato, so less problematic in that regard. I did notice an occasional tendency toward slight, spontaneous (?) acceleration—a minor distraction that caused a slight loss of tension.

A highlight in the performance was the quaver-based episode starting at bar 164, which wasn’t just a light “filler” between fugue expositions, but expressive and very carefully articulated, with rich agogics and dynamics, building up to a broad climax, before the inverted (al riverso) fuge sets in. One could feel that this fugue is a huge technical challenge—a pinnacle not only within the “Sei Solo“, but for the violin repertoire of all time. Like the previous episode, the section beginning at bar 244 was of ravishing beauty: serene, full of love and expression, building up to an almost overwhelming climax. After that, the final fugue exposition felt more like a coda.

III. Largo

Expressive, solemn, “big”, but also with lyrical, intimate moments. Up to bar 17, however, the interpretation was, in my opinion, a little too expressive. After the complexity of the fugue, I would prefer an interpretation that emphasized peaceful simplicity. This also would require no (or very, very little) vibrato. However: in bars 18ff, Mikhail Pochekin did achieve this simplicity, by retreating to an ethereal, almost vanishing ppp: otherworldly, transfigured, absolutely enchanting!

IV. Allegro assai

Playful, yet expressive in dynamics and agogics, almost bursting with movement. Perhaps a little too fast, to the point where some motifs were in danger of losing clarity, if not of being “swallowed up”.

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Partita No.3 for Violin solo in E major, BWV 1006

The Composition

For general comments on Bach’s Partita for solo Violin No.3 see the description in my extended comparison post. Here, I’ll just list the movements:

  1. Preludio
  2. Loure
  3. Gavotte en rondeau
  4. Menuet I — Menuet II — Menuet I
  5. Bourrée
  6. Gigue

The Performance

As indicated above, I consider the following comments to be complementary to those on Mikhail Pochekin’s CD recording.

I. Preludio

The Preludio confirmed my expectation: musically, this felt too easy, too light to be a conclusion after the preceding compositions. Was it exhaustion from the previous works that caused an occasional loss of articulation clarity, even rare impurities in articulation and intonation? But yes, the performance was playful…

II. Loure

A beautiful, peace- and graceful dance. And in the repeat of the first part, we could once again enjoy Mikhail Pochekin’s rich ornamentation. I liked the way in which the ending vanished into ppp! The artist managed to preserve the simplicity of this movement, avoiding overloading it with expression (and vibrato).

III. Gavotte en rondeau

Simple and playful, but expressive. Of course, Mikhail Pochekin added ornaments to the repetition of the Gavotte theme. Moreover, with each of the subsequent instances, there were additional and varied ornaments. Very nice!

IV. Menuet I — Menuet II — Menuet I

The first of the Menuets was perhaps a bit too mechanical, lacking the rhythmic flexibility, the swaying of a true dance movement. Menuet II, on the other hand, was more playful, more natural, almost folksy, with its hurdy-gurdy episodes.
★★★½ / ★★★★

V. Bourrée

Maybe a little fast, to the point where jumps occasionally caused minor disruptions in the flow.

VI. Gigue

A very pleasant, natural ending to a challenging, demanding double recital: congratulations on this amazing achievement!

Overall Rating: ★★★★

Summary / Conclusions

In the aftermath, the second of the recitals felt vastly bigger, more significant than the first one. The limited audience size in the first part may have contributed to this, but of course it was also the overwhelming stature of BWV 1004 (with the Ciaccona) and BWV 1005 (with its large double fugue) that created this impression.

Selecting a Sequence for the Sonatas and Partitas

Bach arranged his “Sei Solo” in the order of increasing technical difficulty, in the sequence Sonata No.1 — Partita No.1 — Sonata No.2 — Partita No.2 — Sonata No.3. Compared to the Sonata No.3, the Partita No.3 is musically and technically much less demanding, almost recreational.

I don’t think that Bach intended the “Sei Solo” to be performed in the exact published order, let alone in two consecutive recitals on the same day. Nevertheless, Mikhail Pochekin’s decision to play them in the published order is certainly a legitimate one. But I can’t deny that after the overwhelming experience of Partita No.2, especially the Chaconne, and of Sonata No.3 with its almost monstrous fugue, Partita No.3 felt like a musical descent to something lighter, easier (I’m tempted to say “from high art to dance / entertainment”). This makes it clear that Isabelle Faust’s decision to swap Partitas No.2 and No.3, i.e., to end her recital with the Chaconne, is the better choice, at least musically.

But there are other factors to consider, such as managing the physical and mental / psychological strain of such a double recital. Isabelle Faust is undoubtedly a world-class, highly experienced artist who knows what and how much she can handle (and she played all the repeats!). We cannot simply assume that her programming considerations would apply equally to a much younger artist, such as Mikhail Pochekin.

The CD Set to the Concert

J.S. Bach, Sonatas & Partitas — Mikhail Pochekin (CD cover)

Bach: Sonatas and Partitas for Violin Solo, BWV 1001 – 1006

Mikhail Pochekin, Violin

Solo Musica / SONY / NO●TE SM 298 (2 CDs, stereo); ℗ / © 2018
Booklet: 20 pp. de/en

J.S. Bach, Sonatas & Partitas — Mikhail Pochekin (CD, EAN-13 barcode)
amazon media link

I referred to this recording above. I have discussed Mikhail Pochekin’s 2018 recording in the context of an comparison of a large selection of (complete) recordings of Bach’s “Sei Solo”. The comparison spans seven blog posts (one per sonata or partita, plus a comparison summary). It was published between 2021-08 and 2023-01. Isabelle Faust, whose concert performance I mentioned above, has (of course) also recorded Bach’s “Sei Solo”. Her recording is included in that extensive comparison.


The author would like to express his gratitude to the organizer, Nina Orotchko / Musical Discovery, for the invitation and the free entry to this concert.

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