COMPOSERS: Abel,Ortiz,Schenck,Simpson and Hume,Telemann
WORKS: Works by Abel, Ortiz, Schenck, Telemann, Simpson and Hume
PERFORMER: Wieland Kuijken (viola da gamba)
CATALOGUE NO: CO-75659 DDD
This enterprising solo disc traces the history of the Baroque viola da gamba. It spans some 250 years and features six composers, from Spanish pioneer Diego Ortiz (c1510-c1570) to Europe’s last great gamba exponent, the German Carl Friedrich Abel (1723-87). Ortiz’s brief Recercadas, though intended as practice exercises, have a severe beauty that derives from their emphasis on line. It was the English who, using multiple stopping (ie chordal) techniques, began to explore the harmonic possibilities of the solo gamba.
Examples here include Tobias Hume’s charming My mistress hath a pritty thing and Christopher Simpson’s Three Preludes, which epitomise the elaborate ‘Divisions’ style. This English influence can also be heard in Johannes Schenck’s alluring Sonata VI in A minor and in Telemann’s delightful Sonata in D major, where he writes each movement in a different national style – English, Italian, German and a winning French Vivace. The final degree of sophistication in solo gamba music is represented by Abel.
His Five Pieces in D minor are elegant and sensitive, their technical complexities hidden beneath polished surfaces. Wieland Kuijken’s exemplary performances are likewise in the service of the music. The close recording maynot suit all tastes, but the repertoire is certainly attractive and varied enough to please most. Graham Lock