Going through my sheet music this evening, I stumbled across the Ciaccona (or Chaconne). Tucked away in the middle of Bach’s beautiful Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin (1), this piece is as haunting to listen to as it is fiendishly difficult to play.
The 6 Sonatas and Partitas are known as a reference work for serious violinists, but even the best will approach the Ciaccona with respect — sometimes taking years to prepare it for performance. Johannes Brahms, himself no slouch when it came to composing, had this to say about the Ciaccona in a letter to Clara Schumann:
On one stave, for a small instrument, the man writes a whole world of the deepest thoughts and most powerful feelings. If I imagined that I could have created, even conceived the piece, I am quite certain that the excess of excitement and earth-shattering experience would have driven me out of my mind.
If you have twenty minutes to spare, pour yourself a glass of wine and listen to this sublime recording of the Ciaccona by Itzhak Perlman — unfortunately split into two parts, but well worth the trouble of a click halfway through!
Part 1 of 2
Part 2 of 2