The first thing to strike the listener about these 2006 Avie recordings of Bach's Sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord will be how loud they are. While neither instrument is noted for its power to project, the instruments are recorded so closely here as to be gargantuan in these recordings by Jonathan Manson and Trevor Pinnock. After adjusting the volume, the second thing to strike the listener will be how brilliantly played they are.
Imagined as a concert that Bach could have instigated, this disc explores the Cantor ‘s art of transcription and reveals the wealth of influences which the Germanic empire was exposed to in the first half of the eighteenth century. Going back and forth between fantasy and counterpoint, between German and Italian styles, Bach makes these forms and styles his own and thus plays with the rich sound pallets of the viola da gamba and the harpsichord. This album is the first recorded by two rising stars whose tremendous energy and complicity has conferred greater depth to this concert.
The ‘warm voice’ of the viola has long been associated with pioneering British performers such as Lionel Tertis, for whom Vaughan Williams wrote his tuneful and elegantly crafted ‘Suite.’ Tertis famously rejected the score of Walton’s ‘Viola Concerto,’ but instantly regretted his decision on hearing its lyrical warmth and piquant blend of delicacy and bite at the premiere performed by Paul Hindemith. Howells’s somber but noble ‘Elegy’ is a memorial for a student colleague killed in action during World War I. Hailed as “one of the world’s greatest violists” (American Record Guide), Helen Callus continues to captivate audiences with her lyrical tone, technical command, and profound artistry. She is a sought-after recitalist, chamber musician, and concerto soloists. She has performed with such world-class ensembles as the Tokyo and Juilliard String Quartets, the BBC Concert Orchestra, and delighted audiences across the world. She is an award-winning recording artist and her seven releases have been met with the highest critical acclaim.