Isabelle Faust, Bernhard Forck & Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin – J. S. Bach: Violin Concertos

faustTrue to her name, there was probably some Faustian bargain made at some point to play this well. Isabelle is the modern day Paganini.

If you’re all up with that classical steez, you already know Isabelle is the shit. She’s Your Majesty of Bow and String, a violin p.i.m.p., a straight-stringed balla. Motherfucker can spit a trill and eats unworthy violinists for breakfast alongside her non-dairy alternative. All those other violinists that think they got game should listen to Isabelle and realize that they are musical bumpkins. There ought to be portraits of Isabelle on the walls of aspiring violinists next to an array of burning incense, flowers, and seasonal fruits. She’s a living classical music deity. Think I’m over the top? Good. Great! I’m glad you fucking think so.

Remember that reference to Paganini? Ya, she won the Paganini award back in ’93, so that shit works like gangbusters. There have been Gramophone awards, a couple Diapason d’Or, and a shitton of other honours that people would sell their first born in order to attain. Her Mozart in ’16 is classical music cannon. But awards and accommodations can mean rich-ass family connections, gratuitous showmanship, or the ability to control minds. But that’s not Isabelle. She doesn’t throw down thick vibrato and loud notes like her shit don’t stank. This shit is not Eddie Van Halen. Isabelle is great because of how subtle, beautiful, and understated her playing is. It’s all finesse and ease that only comes from pure dedication and fucktons of talent. Listening to her play is like forgetting the time of day as you watch a butterfly trail through the sky. Of course, without Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin and Bernhard Forck following suit, all of this would’ve gone down like a hot mess. Everyone deserves major cred on this motherfucker.

Let’s be honest, this is Bach. Shit has been played to death. But Isabelle does the impossible, she Madonnas this motherfucker. I feel like a virgin hearing this for the very first time. The grace with which these concertos are played is masterful. But it’s not just technique that’s got me hooked. If you’re new to this classical shit, it may not sound like much. But what makes this interpretation so fucking unique and inspiring is that this is pure uncut Germanic Bach. This is raw Bach. It’s not classical music pageantry and circus performers. This delicate composition seems to be woven together on waves of air. At certain points I found myself actually holding my breath. The amount of intent, talent, and modesty it takes to play like this is inspiring. And if playing like this meant a deal with the devil, I couldn’t give a shit. Let’s draw up a few hundred more Faustian contracts. The devil’s got the better tunes anyway.


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