JS Bach: Cello Suites Nos 5 & 6; Saint-Colombe the elder: Solo Viola da Gamba Suite in D minor – Prelude; Saint-Colombe the younger: Prelude in E minor; Viola da Gamba Suite in G major; Bass Viol Suite in G minor – Fantasie en Rondeau; Solo Viola da Gamba Suite in D minor – Chaconne
Johanna Rose (viola da gamba)
Rubicon RCD1101 62:38 mins
With 7 Movements Johanna Rose presents her third album for Rubicon Classics and the debut of her 7-stringed viola da gamba. Finished in August 2021, the instrument, a collaboration between Rose and the Spanish luthier Robert Louis Baille, draws inspiration from Antonio Stradivari. In Rose’s hands the Baille gamba personifies the best of 21st-century historical performance, deftly traversing historical accuracy and practical expediency.
Juxtaposing French and Germanic repertoire invites us to rehear this music, particularly two of the six suites Johann Sebastian Bach wrote for cello. Rose celebrates the gamba-playing Sainte-Colombe family, with two works each by father Jean and his son. The album’s opening and closing tracks, by the elder Sainte-Colombe, are beautifully sinewy and resonant. His son’s E minor prelude reinvigorates selections from his G major Suite. In these four movements Rose is visceral and pleasingly direct.
The revelation of the album is Rose’s rendition of JS Bach’s canonic D major Cello Suite, BWV 1012, especially the way she conveys the delicious interplay of dissonance and consonance. The ‘Prelude’ and ‘Courante’ are tours de force, the ‘Allemande’sounds organic and spacious and the ‘Sarabande’ is elegant with impeccable voice-leading. The first ‘Gavotte’ has an authoritative swagger and the suite’s concluding ‘Gigue’ is gentle but assured, persuasively articulating the hierarchy of the bar.
On this album Johanna Rose captures the excitement and spontaneity of the act of performing this music, and in so doing, charts new territory for the viola da gamba.