Niek Baar moved audience and jury deeply at the prestigious Oskar Back Concours 2018 and he was unanimously declared winner of this violin contest. At the Grachtenfestival he performs three violin sonatas with his duo partner, pianist Ben Kim.
Bach, Tartini and Beethoven; the three sonatas on today’s program are written over a period of 90 years. Tartini wrote his sonata after dreaming about the Devil, who played this melody for him after he made Tartini surrender his violin. The work has been “rebaptised” in the 20th century into a truly virtuoso piece with a considerable piano part and even some orchestral guidance. Remarkable about Sonata in E by Bach for violin and basso continuo is the first part, which is in a fact a written down improvisation; the violin improvises and varies, while the piano is maintaining the same tone. This sonata is hardly ever performed, but Niek and Ben chose to perform this lesser known work by Bach. The Kreutzer Sonata by Beethoven (1803) is his biggest sonata for violin and piano. Beethoven initially wrote this sonata for a friend, the half Polish, half Indian violinist Polgreen. Polgreen thought the sonata impossible to perform and would never play it again after his premiere with Beethoven on piano. When Polgreen and Beethoven had a drink after the concert and Polgreen offended a woman who turned out to be a close friend to Beethoven, the composer was so offended that he dedicated his sonata to another close friend and violinist: Rodolphe Kreutzer.