Steven Isserlis and Richard Egarr here assemble all the viola da gamba sonatas written by three composers born in the propitious year of 1685: one each by Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, and three by JS Bach. Isserlis plays them on the gamba’s modern cousin, the cello, and the microphone loves his playing, picking up all the nuances and scampering asides from his soft-spoken instrument which can sometimes get lost in big concert halls. Egarr on harpsichord matches Isserlis’s eloquence and rambunctious energy all the way. The dreamy, airy slow movement of Bach’s Sonata in G minor brings telling use of vibrato as Isserlis circles around Egarr, his playing at once idiomatic and soulful. An extra cellist reinforces the bass line in the Handel and Scarlatti, in which the composers give the harpsichordist only a framework; Egarr’s imaginative realisations ensure that even when Scarlatti is at his most repetitive, he is never dull.
The most-talked about artist of the 2015 Tchaikovsky Competition created huge excitement and world-wide media attention with his riveting background and “genius-like playing” (Boris Berezovksy). Debargue, who is 25, started the piano late at 11 years old, learning mostly in isolation. After dropping the instrument for three years to play in a rock band and study literature, he started formal piano training aged 20. Placed 4th, he was described by media as “the real winner” of the competition and received the Music Critics’ Association award as “the pianist whose incredible gift, artistic vision and creative freedom have impressed the critics as well as the audience.” Valery Gergiev, the competition’s chairman, broke protocol by letting Debargue play in the winners’ gala and not prizewinner Dmitry Masleev. Lucas Debargue's debut album is a live recording at the Salle Cortot in Paris and documents his first concert in his hometown after the competition. The centrepiece of his first recording is Ravel’s monumentally challenging Gaspard de la nuit.
While Ivo Pogorelich established his reputation performing mainly Romantic repertoire, his few forays into the Baroque reveal him to be an equally engaging- if not eccentric musician here as well. In quicker movements, such as the opening Preludes of the English Suites for instance Pogorelich's rhythmic control and contrapuntal clarity are simply amazing. Slower movements likewise are handled with remarkable intensity and delicacy. Pogorelich's performances of four Scarlatti sonatas concluding the program as well are wonderfully animated and knowing.
Amid Domenico Scarlatti's extensive output of over 550 keyboard sonatas lie a small number of works that, given such traits such as figured bass, multi-movement structure and even bowing like articulation, were probably originally written for solo instrument (such as violin) and continuo. In their third recording for Brilliant Classics, members of the Cappella Tiberina present a selection of these works, experimenting with different scorings which historical sources show were common throughout the Baroque repertoire – hence K78 is presented on the theorbo, while K132 is played as a harpsichord solo.