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CD Review

Sonatas for Violoncello & Violoncello Piccolo

  • Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach:
  • Sonata in C Major for Viola de gamba & Basso Continuo 1,5
  • Sonata in D Major for Viola de gamba & Basso Continuo 1,5
  • Francesco Alborea:
  • Sonata in C Major à Violoncello solo e Basso 2,3,5
  • Sonata in G Major à Violoncello solo e Basso 2,5,7
  • Sonata in D Major à Violoncello solo e Basso 2,4,6
1,2 Jennifer Morsches, piccolo cello & Baroque cello
3,4 David Miller, theorbo & archlute
5,6 Robin Bigwood, harpsichord & organ
7 Jane Gower, bassoon
Barn Cottage Records BCR013

After a considerable absence, Barn Cottage Records returns to the market with another exciting project. Packaged very simply, but also with the high standards of the house, this disc is lovingly played and recorded. The program is intelligent enough for continuous listening, and the variety of the chamber instruments and moods is sure to hold your attention. In short, this is essential for lovers of the Baroque.

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach's two offerings are here transcribed tastefully for Violoncello piccolo. Jennifer Morsches is a wonderful cellist, playing with warmth and virtuosity alike. Robin Bigwood is the kind of harpsichordist that you want to hear in the event you don't like the harpsichord, he's a tremendous artist who makes the instrument an equal chamber music partner. The sound is full and rich, and just the kind of thing for a rainy day. Are these masterpieces? I'm not sure, but they are worth having all the same.

The Francesco Alborea pieces have a good deal more to offer in terms of contrast, employing instruments that we don't usually hear in this way outside of the specialist market. Bigwood's contributions are again exceptional whether on harpsichord or organ, and Morsches is just as comfortable on the Baroque cello as she was on the rarer Violoncello piccolo. Jane Gower and David Miller – the latter on the theorbo and archlute – really bring something new to the party, so to speak. The bassoon is not an instrument I would think of for a cello sonata, but then, I don't get paid to compose. It works, and surprisingly well; so too does Miller's gently confident string playing. I'm thrilled to see this label back after its hiatus, and all the qualities that I've loved about it for over a year now. Simply stunning.

Copyright © 2014, Brian Wigman