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Violinist Johnny Gandelsman’s Solo Bach Album Debuts at #1 on Billboard’s Traditional Classical Chart

Capping a banner year for the violinist, Johnny Gandelsman’s J.S. Bach: Complete Sonatas and Partitas for Violin debuted at #1 on the Billboard Traditional Classical Chart. Produced by Gandelsman and released on January 19 on his own In a Circle Records label, the album also marks a solo debut for the violinist, who is a member of the Silkroad Ensemble and a founding member of Brooklyn Rider. He is now riding high after a series of successes over the past year, beginning last February with his Grammy win as producer of Silkroad and Yo-Yo Ma’s Sing Me Home, which was named Best World Music Album. During the course of 2017 he produced music by the same forces for Ken Burns’s critically acclaimed documentary The Vietnam War and was the co-arranger of the music for Layla and Majnun, a collaboration between Silkroad and the Mark Morris Dance Group that was presented at Lincoln Center. And as well as his activities with Brooklyn Rider – which released two albums last year and toured with Anne Sofie von Otter in Germany, Béla Fleck in the U.S., and Martin Hayes in the UK– Gandelsman also undertook his own solo Bach tour. It was a banner year indeed.

In a unique build-up to the release of his album on January 19, Gandelsman presented a “31 days of J.S. Bach” series on Facebook Live. The videos, mostly shot in his family’s apartment or in hotels on the road, offered a glimpse into the violinist’s Bach journey. Each day he played one of the 31 movements on the album, before performing the entire set of three sonatas and three partitas live from his hotel room in Salina, Kansas. These performances perfectly illustrate Gandelsman’s signature style, characterized by the Boston Globe as one of “genial freshness and unaffected sincerity.” Last Friday, the chart-topping violinist played some Bach for the New York Times in its own Facebook Live series.

Gandelsman became reacquainted with Bach’s works for unaccompanied violin in 2015, wanting to explore his own voice as a soloist, and believing his collaborations with non-classical musicians – like Iranian kamancheh legend Kayhan Kalhor, Irish fiddler Martin Hayes, and banjo virtuoso Béla Fleck – might deepen his approach to the Baroque master. That year he performed Bach’s complete sonatas and partitas on 15 occasions, impressing the New York Times with his “mesmerizing” interpretation. In 2016, he decided to record the works, running a successful Kickstarter campaign and raising more than $30,000 for the album. He continued to tour his complete unaccompanied Bach in fall 2017, and has recently added performances dates in New York and Knoxville, TN.

Next up, Gandelsman celebrates the release of his album with a concert at the downtown New York City club Nublu on February 11.

High-resolution photos can be downloaded here.

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© 21C Media Group, February 2018

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