The current CD by Doris Orsan with works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Nikolaus Brass

Even Johannes Brahms considered it “one of the most wonderful, incomprehensible pieces of music”; Yehudi Menuhin called it “the greatest structure for solo violin there is”, his successor Joshua Bell even called it “not only one of the greatest pieces of music that has ever been written, but one of the greatest human accomplishments in history.” What is meant is the “Ciaccona” by Johann Sebastian Bach, who was probably only added later – perhaps under the impression of the death of his first wife Maria Barbara in 1720 – the fifth movement of the Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004. These 64 free variations on a bass theme – better known under the French term “Chaconne” and originally a Spanish dance – are not only almost as long as the other four movements put together. Above all, they established the status of Bach’s cycle of six partitas and sonatas for solo violin as a pinnacle of violin literature, both technically and musically.

This is how the violinist Doris Orsan titled her new solo album “Ciaccona”, although of course she not only plays this movement, but also the complete first two partitas of Bach. In the tradition of many great predecessors, her interpretation makes clear again what makes Bach’s music so unique: The form is so perfect with him that an incomparable freedom arises from it; His musical thoughts are so fundamental, essential and timeless that they rise above styles and fashions and are completely absorbed in the individual expression of those who play them. “Bach’s music leads the performer to himself, to his own expression, which at the same time finds its generality in the music,” says Orsan. “In this sense, there is no such thing as one true Bach interpretation, his work picks up on everyone who goes on a search.”


Doris Orsan: violin


Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
Partita No. 2 in D minor, BWV 1004
[01] Allemanda
[02] Corrente
[03] Sarabanda
[04] Giga
[05] Ciaccona

Nikolaus Brass (* 1949)
songlines I
[06] songlines I

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750)
Partita No. 1 in B minor, BWV 1002
[07] Allemanda
[08] Double
[09] Corrente
[10] Double
[11] Sarabande
[12] Double
[13] Tempo di Borea
[14] Double

Further information and audio samples can be found here:

Interview with Doris Orsan on the album “Ciaccona” in “IZ-Virtuos”

>>> read as pdf <<<

CD review in IZ-Virtuos 1/21

This remarkable album begins with the ‘Allemanda’ of Bach’s famous D minor Partita – and Doris Orsan secures the attention of her listener with the first few bars. Because he knows – regardless of whether you are a Bach connoisseur or just a music lover – that this CD presents a sensitive artist and her conception of the work. The inspired playing of the violinist serves the music, makes the awe, but also the deeply felt love for this outstanding music audible.
There are no moments of banal virtuosity, although Bach composed enough seductive sections in both partitas. Instead, the interpreter plays her Bach form-consciously, paying attention to the entirety with a keen eye for the innumerable details. A listener can sometimes have a different opinion – because that is part of art. The ‘Ciaconna’ is in the center, but its monumentality does not outshine it. This is exactly how it should always be when a violinist takes on this music.
The link between the two Bach partitas in D and B minor, Nikolaus Brass’ poignant ‘songlines I’ is cleverly chosen, captivates as such and in the portrayal of the artist and ensures a deepening of the personal fingerprint. In fact, this CD should be listened to in one piece. Not once, but over and over again. There is so much to learn. Now and in all future hours.

Harald Wittig

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