"Ciaccona"

May 1, 2018

Violinist Robyn Bollinger weaves together a narrative of cultural history, musical invention, and deeply personal experience, all through the creations of four composers.

This is the second in a series of WCRB blog posts that bring you a personal perspective on richly rewarding CD releases you may not encounter otherwise.

For those of us in classical music media, nothing is more thrilling than seeing a listener's eyes, ears, and mind open up to some new revelation about music. That internal light bulb of understanding and connection is what wakes us up in the morning and what we think about as we go to bed at night.

It's equally thrilling when a musician takes on that very same mission, unlocking the mysteries, the codes, and the depths of his or her art. In "Ciaccona: The Bass of Time," Robyn Bollinger has created just such an experience - through audio, video, and live performance - built on the back of a single violin.

The four pieces that ground the project include

  • the Passacaglia from Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber's "Mystery Sonatas,"
  • the Ciaccona from J.S. Bach's Partita No. 2,
  • the Tempo di Ciaccona from Béla Bartók's Sonata for Solo Violin, and
  • Luciano Berio's Sequenza VIII.

Robyn, who's deeply embedded in Boston's musical landscape as a member of the Chameleon Arts Ensemble and A Far Cry, among others, talked with me about the project. She began by describing the way her own experiences of classical music concerts were... less than satisfying.

But while the comprehensive experience of "Ciaccona" is its greatest quality, I wanted to know more about the individual components, the specific pieces Robyn chose to include and what's behind each one of them:

As you heard, "Ciaccona" is the result of years of visioning, preparation, and work. But projects like that don't come without surprises:

Robyn Bollinger's "Ciaccona: The Bass of Time" is available as a CD and as a DVD from Crier Records