Canadian violinist and Bach specialist Lara St. John has been called many things, both positive and disparaging. After ten years on what can only be described as the brutal 21st Century Classical recording scene, this writer chose to describe St. John as a musical Valkyrie. From the Old Norse Valkyrja, meaning "Choosers of the Slain," St. John can be seen as a rejuvenating force in Bach circles, reviving and providing youthfulness and contemporary interpretation of the supreme of the Bach canon: The Six Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Solo, BWV 1001-BWV 1006.
Or, if the reader/listener is so inclined, he or she may see St. John as the true supernatural deity described as a warrior goddesses, riding in the ranks of the gods and serving victorious drinks in Valhalla. This perhaps best depicts St. John’s steely determination to both make music and record it (on her own terms and recording label Ancalagon), thumbing her nose at the major music distributors like the Valkyrie Skǫgul (“Raging” against the corporate machine) producing rarified Bach, easily the best in the past 20 years.
Ten years in the making, St. John’s Bach: The Six Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Solo has not been without its preluding teases and promises. In 1996, St. John released Bach Works of Solo Violin bisecting Bach’s Six with crisp and impassioned performances of the "Partita no. 2 in D Minor," "BWV 1004 and Sonata no. 3. in C Major," and "BWV 1005" (Well Tempered Productions). Following another Well Tempered Production, 1997’s Gypsy, which focused on show-stopping incendiary devices like Waxman’s “Carmen” Fantasie,” de Sarasate’s “Zigeunerweisen,” and Kreisler’s “La Gitana,”
In 2000, St. John elected to go it alone, forming her own record company, Ancalagon Records. It was named for her pet iguana who was, in turn, named for the greatest dragon of Morgoth as documented by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Silmarillion. This major endeavor resulted in The Concerto Album recorded with the New York Bach Ensemble, where St. John teased us once again with the Bach solo violin of the Sonata no. 1 in G minor, "BWV 1001," whose fuga alone could disarm the Spartan 300. In 2004, St. John was approached by Sony for a project that resulted in Re: Bach which featured Bach-like confections from composer Magnus Fiennes.
Disillusioned (or disgusted) with her experience with Sony, St. John returned full time to Ancalagon Records, electing to produce her first magnum opus Bach: The Six Sonatas & Partitas for Violin Solo. It was only natural that St. John record Bach’s fractured monolith as she had been preparing for this recording all of her life in the same way Eric Clapton had prepared for his Robert Johnson tribute Me and Mr. Johnson for the better part of his career.