To conclude this season's International Violin Competition of Indianapolis's Laureate Chamber series, we had a sole — as well as solo — performer, who also provided an engagingly informal lecture. Veteran violinist Arnold Steinhardt — a Los Angeles native, with more career credits than we can list here, came to the IHC's Basile Theater to discuss his beloved Bach, in particular the great "Chaconne" from the composer's Partita No. 2 in D Minor for Solo Violin. Then he proceeded to play the entire Partita.
The "Chaconne's" relevance to the competition itself couldn't be greater: At least a third of the quadrennial event's participants choose to play the piece, so that attendees and on-line viewers get to hear many views of this — possibly the greatest solo violin work ever written.
A screen, projecting apropos images hung above the stage, included portraits of Bach and some of his contemporaries, as well as the Partita's score as Steinhardt was playing it. Its five movements, based on Renaissance dance forms are: Allemanda, Corrente, Sarabanda, Giga, and Ciaconna (Italian for "Chaconne," which the English then borrowed from the French). Steinhardt easily projected in his discussion his lifelong fascination with the "Chaconne," then proved it by giving us a more penetrating account of it than we ever hear from young competition participants, no matter their facility and tonal qualities.
In fact, he revealed the entire Partita as few performers I've ever witnessed have brought to it. Following a standing ovation from the rather large IHC turnout, Steinhardt took a number of questions from the audience.