Bach: Three Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, BWV 1027, 1028, 1029

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COMPOSERS: Bach
LABELS: ECM
WORKS: Three Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord, BWV 1027, 1028, 1029
PERFORMER: Kim Kashkashian (viola)Keith Jarrett (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 445 230-2 DDD
Bach’s three gamba sonatas are rarely played on the instrument for which they were written, in general being appropriated by cellists. But on this recording, the viola has taken over. And if using the viola is unusual, what about pairing Kim Kashkashian with a harpsichordist who happens to be one of today’s greatest jazz musicians? But ECM has proved to be a provocative ‘mixer and matcher’ of artists. The sound of the viola is ‘duller’ than a cello, but Kashkashian plays lightly with sparing vibrato and a fast bow. Occasionally, the register jumps oddly to accommodate the range of the viola and at times the brightness of the harpsichord does overwhelm, but this is a problem inherent with these sonatas, where the viola/gamba voice is a middle one. Tempi can be too fast (the slow movement of No. 1), but also thrilling (finale of No. 2). Jarrett, who has made a number of distinguished Bach recordings, embellishes authentically, as any distinguished jazz musician should. A refreshing experience, but for a more conventional approach, try Maisky and Argerich. Annette Morreau

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