I think this is a compelling – absolutely compelling – performance. Like an experienced teacher guiding one to see previously unnoticed ideas and details, or symmetries and asymmetries in a complex piece of architecture, Diana Boyle helps the listener understand intellectually and feel emotionally the intense life within one of Bach’s most thoughtful and astringent pieces of writing. And she makes that astringency feel positively rich, with her wide range of (yes – sometimes idiosyncratic, but always revealing) dynamics. The key to understanding this performance, I think, lies in her own words (see cover notes) that she had the violin often in mind whilst performing this work. Bach, after all, never stipulated which instrument he was composing this for.
This is musical architecture at its highest: and Ms. Boyle reads it very personally and with profound feeling and sincerity, while at the same time faithfully conserving the music’s universal quality. This is not the “definitive performance”: heaven preserve that such a thing should exist. But it is one of the most exciting and technically excellent interpretations I know. I am grateful for Ms. Boyle’s ability to illuminate the music, and would recommend these discs to anyone wanting to be introduced to a new exploration of the musical cathedrals which Bach created.