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J.S. Bach, Partita No. 2 in D Minor, Petteri Iivonen

03-10-2023 | By Robert H. Levi | Issue 126

J.S. Bach, Partita No. 2 in D Minor, Petteri Iivonen Violin. Yarlung Records. 45 RPM LP.

Executive Producer: Elliot Midwood
Producer and Recording Engineer: Bob Attiyeh
Mastering Engineers: Steve Hoffman, Arian Jansen & Bob Attiyeh
Vinyl Mastering: Bernie Grundman
Microphone Preamplification: Elliot Midwood
AKG C24 microphone: Gearworks Pro Audio
Graphic Layout: MikeDesign
Violin: Ferdinandus Gagliano 1767

Alfred Newman Hall, USC, Los Angeles. Recorded June 9-16, 2008, Released 2022 on 45 RPM Vinyl

AKG C-24 Stereo Tube Microphone, No mixer, direct from the microphone amplifier to the Tape Deck using the shortest possible length of custom wire. Agfa Formula 468 Tape was utilized.

One has to understand that Yarlung Records is a non-profit organization and releases its amazing productions when financially feasible. This performance was included in a CD compilation of Petteri Iivonen's work titled Art of the Violin, Yarlung Records 05787, in 2008, to rave reviews. Being a CD with its limitations, I did not realize the overall importance of this recording. The performance was both exciting and nuanced but not what you would expect from analog's ability to make the violin come alive in the room. Now we have the BOMB!

I talked with Bob Attiyeh the other day, and he mentioned that Elliot Midwood, Partita's executive producer, Craig and Diane Martin, Jim Mulally, Patrick Trostle, and Russell Ward, Yarlung's recent vinyl executive producers, kept Yarlung Records alive during the pandemic. Their support has made Yarlung vinyl possible.

Note to Readers: Rave Coming!

I have not ever heard, in my lifetime, a better solo violin LP or superior solo performance of any work including the Partita. It is not only a reference LP, it is a treasure, a must-own, a measure of your entire phono front-end and its ability to resolve reality. If your system is up to the task, Petteri Iivonen's performance will be in the room, with you seated in front of the orchestra. This LP demonstrates the whole point of this hobby, to reproduce the reality of the musical performance in your living room.

The Gagliano violin has the sweet top end of the Strad, but a bit more organic girth in the mid-range. Probably designed to play a bit louder for larger halls of the day, it is dramatically utilized to maximize the dynamic benefits of bold, soft, and delicate. When I heard this LP for the first time, I played it three times in utter audiophile shock. WOW!

Iivonen is currently Concert Master for Paris Opera in the Palais Garnier. He worked with Esa-Pekka Salonen as Concert Master in the Finnish National Opera Orchestra. Currently he is associated with Gustavo Dudamel in Paris.

The Partita No. 2 is a challenge for any musician who wants to perform the entire piece, which lasts about 30 minutes. About half of that is the famous "Ciaccona," the final section, which was made uber-famous by Heifetz. Being a bit laconic in style, he played it fairly straight through, with only occasional dynamic or tempi changes. I have gotten used to his style of this amazing burst of brilliance from Bach. Iivonen interprets it anew with a performance that propels and amazes continuously for the full 17 minutes. From the first note on side B, be prepared for a young violinist channeling the performance of a truly mature musician. I am shocked that this recording lay in the can for 14 years before it was produced on vinyl. 

Thankfully, the brilliant award-winning leader of Yarlung Records, Bob Attiyeh, saw fit to move resources to produce a cost-is-no-object 45 RPM LP, pressed in Europe on 180-gram vinyl, with nary a flaw to note. You cannot tell the stylus is actually on the record it is so very quiet. At 45 RPM, distortion is eliminated from vinyl as far as I can hear, and dynamics are fully explored. The Partita No. 2 fits nicely on both sides, with a continuous performance of the Ciaccone on Side B. If you insist on many replays of Side B, I would buy two copies of this limited LP edition while the getting is good.

I am running out of superlatives for this release, so let me state unequivocally that this LP is not only highly recommended, but required for all audiophiles who have good phono capability and love music in its most glorious beauty.

Order your copy while you can. Only 1000 were pressed.

Congratulations to Bob Attiyeh and the Yarlung Organization for such an amazing accomplishment!

Performance A+

Sonics A+ Extraordinarily Realistic

LP Retail price: $34.99

For press, please contact Joshua Cheek

Yarlung Records

8721 Santa Monica Boulevard #111

Los Angeles, California 90069


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