Bach Sonatas and Partitas - Volume 1 (2018)


Ning Feng

[click here for Volume 2]

I don’t think many would argue that Bach’s 6 Sonatas and Partitas for solo violin are the ultimate challenge for any violinist, both musically and technically. Even though every violin student tends to study some of the individual movements at a relatively early stage in their training, performing the whole set of these masterpieces requires from the violinist some of the highest technical precision and most sophisticated musical understanding.
Bach’ solo works have always been a part of my musical life; I remember that my very first experience of his work was the ‘Preludio’ from the E Major Partita. I was about 6 or 7 years old and my teacher gave it to me mostly as a exercise to practice my left hand dexterity, and coordination between left and right hand. Later, I started playing the ‘Adagio’ from the G Minor Sonata, then, after I began studying at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music in my hometown, I started learning the ‘Fuga’ from the Solo Sonatas. It fascinated me greatly how on a violin, mostly considered to be a single-melody instrument, one could also play multiple melodies and the accompaniment at the same time.
Of course, one of the highlights of my Bach-related memories was playing the great ‘Ciaccona’ in a masterclass at the Royal Academy of Music for Lord Yehudi Menuhin in 1999 shortly before he passed away. After I finished my performance, the late master said nothing but simply got up from his chair, walked up to me, and gave me a hug. Bach finished this ‘Bible’ of works for the violin in year 1720 when he was 35, and I started recording these masterworks at the same age, to pay my tribute to the greatest musician of all time.   - Ning Feng

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Ning Feng

Born in Chengdu, China, Ning Feng studied at the Sichuan Conservatory of Music and London’s Royal Academy of Music where he was the first student ever to be awarded 100% for his final recital. The recipient of prizes at the Hanover International, Queen Elisabeth and Yehudi Menuhin International violin competitions, Ning Feng was First Prize winner of the 2005 Michael Hill International Violin Competition (New Zealand), and in 2006 won first prize in the International Paganini Competition, following in the footsteps of violinists such as Kavakos, Kremer and Accardo.

Established at the highest level in China, Ning Feng performs regularly in his native country in recital, with their many local orchestras, and with major touring orchestras. Now based in Berlin and performing worldwide, Ning Feng has developed a reputation internationally as an artist of great lyricism and emotional transparency, displaying tremendous bravura and awe-inspiring technical accomplishment.

In recent seasons Ning has performed with orchestras such as the Budapest Festival Orchestra/Iván Fischer, Russian State Symphony/Vladimir Jurowski, Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg/Tang and in halls such as Sydney Opera House, Moscow’s Great Hall, Vienna Konzerthaus, Berlin Konzerthaus, Shanghai Oriental Arts Center and Beijing’s NCPA. In recital he has played in prestigious series and festival such as Vancouver Recital Series and Hong Kong International Chamber, Prague Spring, and Schleswig-Holstein Festivals.

In the 2013/14 season, Ning’s orchestral engagements include his debut with the Berlin Konzerthaus Orchestra with Ivan Fischer, a return to the Hong Kong Philharmonic/van Zweden both in Hong Kong and Taipei, his debut with the Asturias Symphony Orchestra/Carneiro and concerts in China, Singapore, Taiwan and Macau with the Kaoshing Symphony and NCPA Orchestras. In recital, Ning Feng will perform in cities such as Hong Kong, Moscow, Boston and across China, and with Igor Levit and Sebastian Klinger he will perform piano trios across Germany, including at the Heidelberg, Ludwigsburg and Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festivals. Other festival appearances include his return to the Menuhin Festival Gstaad and Kissinger Sommer Festival where he performs every year and where he will be an Artist-in-Residence in 2014.

Ning Feng records for Channel Classics in the Netherlands. His most recent recording of the solo sonatas by Bartok, Prokofiev and Hindemith was released in August 2013. His previous disc, Solo, featuring works by Paganini, Kreisler, Berio, Schnittke and others, received a first-class review by Audiophile Audition: “You will be blown away by the artistry of this album, and blown away in great sound to boot. This is a stunning recording of solo violin works by a variety of composers… and there are really few violinists who are able to pull it off. Ning Feng is one of those who can, not only for his sterling playing but also because of the rabid intelligence behind the selection of pieces here. None of these works is anything less than enthralling, and a few approach the incandescent. Milstein’s arrangement of the Paganiniana has never been bettered… this is an unqualified recommendation of a wonderful album that demonstrates the highest artistic and programming skills possible.” His recording of the Bruch Scottish Fantasy and the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin will be released later in 2013.

Ning Feng plays a 1721 Stradivari violin, known as the ‘MacMillan’, on private loan, kindly arranged by Premiere Performances of Hong Kong.

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Bach Sonatas and Partitas - Volume 1 (2018)


Ning Feng


(…) Sa compréhension chorégraphique des partitas et sa flexibilité rythmique dans les sonates sont des atouts de taille (…) Feng maîtrise parfaitement une sonorité jamais acide, parfois opulente, bien captée par l’équipe de Channel Classics.

    Noordhollands Dagblad -

(...) Met een prachtige toon benadert hij bijna als een zanger op zijn Stradivarius deze ‘Bijbel van de vioolkunst’ (...) De virtuositeit klinkt als vanzelfsprekend onderdeel van zijn spel. Zo hoort het.

Hans Visser

    Audiophile Italy

(...) his rubato is wonderfully old-world (he really does take from one note and give to another) and completely eschews conventional virtuoso display, all of which enables him to create a highly appealing – and unusual - sense of quiet introspection, where he seems to be talking to himself; indeed these performances are virtually unique in this respect.


“Feng is one of the few violinists who have for me demonstrated the theory’s rightness simply by the way he plays. Also the way he inserts tiny pauses between phrases, like minute intakes of breath, suggests parallels with the singing voice. (...) if you want to take Bach’s solo violin music to your heart, intimately and as food for musical thought, then Feng’s recordings strike me as well-nigh ideal.”

Rob Cowan

    Luister (9) -

(…) glasheldere dictie en geweldig stijlgevoel (…)

    Opus Klassiek

(...) De Chinese violist levert het klinkende bewijs dat een kritische houding ten opzichte van deze uiterst complexe partituren de zin voor avontuur niet in de weg hoeft te staan. Hij loodst ons door deze muziek alsof hij voortdurend belangrijke ontdekkingen heeft gedaan die hij coûte que coûte met ons wil delen. Het betoog wordt laag voor laag opgebouwd zonder enige concessie aan de innerlijke energie die van deze muziek afstraalt. Het is zijn en daarmee ook onze confrontatie met Bachs ongenaakbare grootheid en de muzikale schoonheid die daarvan onverbrekelijk deel uitmaakt. (...) De Doopsgezinde kerk in Deventer is voor een recital als dit werkelijk een schitterende locatie: de muziek krijgt de akoestische ruimte die zij voor zich opeist, daarbij uiteraard een technisch ‘handje' geholpen. Kort en goed: Jared Sacks heeft hiermee (weer!) een topprestatie neergezet.

Aart van der Wal

Bach Sonatas and Partitas - Volume 1 (2018)


Ning Feng

Cables: van den Hul
Digital Converters: Horus
Editing Software: Pyramix
Mastering Engineer: Jared Sacks
Mastering Room: Grimm LS1
Microphones: Bruel & Kyaer, Schoeps
Mixing Board: Rens Hejnis custom built
Producer: Jared Sacks, Ning Feng
Recording Engineer: Jared Sacks
Recording location: Doopgezinde Church, Deventer Holland
Recording Software: Merging
Recording Type & Bit Rate: DSD256

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39018A: Bach Sonatas and Partitas - Volume 1
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Sonata nr. 1 - Adagio
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Sonata nr. 1 - Fuga
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Sonata nr. 1 - Siciliana
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Sonata nr. 1 - Presto
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Partita nr. 1 - Allemandea
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Partita nr. 1 - Double
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Partita nr. 1 - Corrente
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Partita nr. 1 - Double Presto
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Partita nr. 1 - Sarabande
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Partita nr. 1 - Double
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Partita nr. 1 - Tempo di borea
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Partita nr. 1 - Double
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Sonate nr. 2 - Grave
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Sonate nr. 2 - Fuga
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Sonate nr. 2 - Andante
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Sonate nr. 2 - Allegro
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