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American Record Guide, September 2008

In the beginning I thought Kaler was playing every movement of each piece with pretty much the same feeling. A warm intimacy pervades this set. This is probably the most consistent set I've ever heard in mood. While I was initially thinking of writing off this release because of that, it grew on me as it progressed. Kaler is unfailingly sincere and noble without sounding stuffy or restrained. He also has a flawless technique and voices each chord with admirable clarity and with perfect purity of tone, which is warm and full. Rhythms are nicely elastic. The recording has just the right warmth and intimacy too. Unlike many artists from the former Soviet Union, he is attuned to developments in period performance practice and is the first violinist I know of since Sergiu Luca to adopt musicologist David Boyden's recommendation to play the antepenultimate double stop of I of Sonata 2 with a very wide vibrato rather than the usual double trill. Actually, I cannot fault Kaler's interpretations anywhere, though he has no better idea what to do with I of Sonata I than almost every other violinist I've heard who has played it.

I'm sure there are many listeners who would like an immaculately played set of these works at budget price free of annoying idiosyncrasies.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2008

With thirty-five recordings of the complete Sonatas and Partitas already in the catalogue, you can have them played in just about any way you want

With thirty-five recordings of the complete Sonatas and Partitas already in the catalogue, you can have them played in just about any way you want, from kinky period instrument purity to those who take perverse pleasure in avoiding any hint of Baroque style. The Russian-born, Ilya Kaler, steers a path between those two extremes, chords spread rather than squeezed as purists would require, and just a hint of vibrato to warm the tonal quality. His violin employs modern metal rather than gut strings, and his bow is obviously equally modern. What Kaler has to offer is an abundance of virtuosity that makes light of these brutishly difficult scores. He takes the fast sections very quickly and without compromising crystalline accuracy. You will also enjoy the clarity he brings to the movements where the violin appears to be having a dialogue with itself, the bow having to dive across strings without revealing that to the listener. But above all it is Kaler’s unblemished accuracy of intonation in the most challenging passages, the treacherous second movement of the Second Partita (track 2 disc 2) being a good sampling point. I am particularly impressed with the massive Ciaccona that ends that Partita, and the way he cuts into the chords maintaining the staccato nature of its opening and closing sections.Though the fast sections are undeniably quick, his pacing of the work is well thought-through, at all times resisting the trap of dawdling in the slower movements. He is helped by a recording made in Naxos’s favourite Canadian venue. It has the degree of reverberation needed, but is cool enough never to cloud fast passages. Of course those who cannot live without period cleanliness will head for Rachel Podger’s much vaunted performance on a Baroque instrument, but among the modern violin recordings Kaler has a great deal going for him.

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