Frederick Charlton's "Bach on Fire"

Discussion in 'Recordings [DB]' started by Diane Devereaux, Jul 19, 2004.

  1. Diane Devereaux

    Diane Devereaux

    Jul 12, 2004
    :D Frederick Charlton just released a CD entitled "Bach on Fire", which consists entirely of movements from Bach's unaccompanied violin partitas. It is truly amazing! Although it just came out a couple of months ago, it is already getting rave reviews from not only the U.S. but also from Italy and Japan.
    David Walter heard an earlier recording of Mr. Charlton's performance of the famous "Chaconne", a year or so before he passed away and was ecstatic about it. He does the entire "Chaconne" without any cuts. That's right, he has arranged the entire arpeggiated sections for bass. Solo bassist and grammy nominee Mark Dresser, called his reworking of the arpeggiated sections in the "Chaconne" "sheer genius." Contrabassist extraordinaire Bert Turetzky, has said that he believes that Frederick Charlton's arrangements of the "Partitas" will start a new trend in bass playing. Vito Dominico Luizzi reviewer for the Italian website "Musicherie", said that it was the best bass recording he had heard in decades. You have got to check this guy out! His website is:
    His CD is also available through:, which is where his sheet music for the three "Unaccompanied Partitas" (all 19 movements) are also available.
    But, back to the CD. He doesn't just play the notes correctly and in tune, he plays them with heart and soul.
    The movements he recorded are as follows:
    1-2 Sarabande and Double (from Partita No. 1)
    3 Giga (from Partita No. 3)
    4 Sarabanda (from Partita No. 2)
    5 Gavotte en Rondeau (from Partita No. 3)
    6-7 Allamanda and Double (from Partita No. 1)
    8 Menuet I and II (from Partita No. 3)
    9 Ciaccona (Chaconne) (from Partita No. 2)
    10 Loure (from Partita No. 3)
    I talked at length with Frederick about his approach to these works and he said that his bass is tuned in fourths. When I asked him about fifths tuning for the pieces he said something like: "Oh yeah, you could play these pieces on bass tuned in fifths...if you were sixty feet tall and could hold the bass under your chin!" He also said that when transcribing music from an instrument tuned in fifths to an instrument tuned in fourths, one must sometimes ADD notes to the chords. That's what guitarists and lutenists do!
    Get this recording! You'll be glad you did.
    Diane Devereaux
  2. I saw him perform parts of the the CD live at Lemurs open house. I was so impressed I bought the CD.I talked to him during the break and He is also a very nice guy and plays classical and jazz.! I understand he has published the pieces and they are available at Lemur as well. Maybe in about two years, after I finish the Bach's six suites, edition for solo bass, I might take it on.