“Playing the viola means making it sing – making myself sing” declares Gérard Caussé, who makes this instrument, with its special voice – deep, nostalgic and melancholy – sing like no one else does. This box set, which brings together an incredibly wide repertoire, bears witness to the remarkable career that has made Caussé a viola legend. The French violist Gérard Caussé is a world renowned maestro of his instrument. Internationally acclaimed, he performs as soloist, chamber musician and with orchestra. A professor of the viola class at the Conservatoire de Paris, Caussé has helped to enrich the viola repertoire by inspiring contemporary composers: Henri Dutilleux, Wolfgang Rihm, Betsy Jolas… among others. 2018 marks Caussé’s 70th birthday. This box highlights the wide range of the viola repertoire he recorded from 1979 to 2010 surrounded by first class artists.
It is 22 years since Savall and Koopman first recorded the Bach gamba sonatas, in the days when Koopman still looked like he should have been presenting The Old Grey Whistle Test. This release for Savall's own Alia Vox label, however, is right up to date, a tame-haired Koopman and an amazingly unaltered Savall having set them down at the beginning of this year. The recording's quick turnaround is a fitting reflection of the state of the musical relationship that has obtained between these two ever since they first performed together in 1970 after only half an hour's rehearsal. Make no mistake, these Bach performances are right in the slot.
Yuri Bashmet developed a highly successful international career as a violist, but then, like so many talented instrumentalists of his generation, branched out into conducting, even founding an orchestra. He has never abandoned the viola, managing to split his time in even portions between soloist and conductor, often appearing in both roles in the same concert.
Gustav Maria Leonhardt was one of the best-known leaders of the Early Music movement. A harpsichordist and organist and later a conductor, he was credited with being one of the most important figures in establishing the Netherlands as one of the main centers of period music performances. He had a classical education, then entered the Schola Cantorum in Basle. There he studied organ and harpsichord with Eduard Müller.
Violist Luigi Alberto Bianchi specializes in performances on historical instruments–that is, instruments that have historical value, not period instruments. In these recordings from 1973 and 1980, he plays the Gran Viola by Amati (1595), stolen in Milan a few weeks after the second recording session released on this CD, and never found since. Because of the unusual size and length of the fingerboard, this unique instrument was especially difficult to play, but also extremely rewarding in terms of tonal beauty and depth of sonority.