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Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Cembalo

5.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, March 7, 2000
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Editorial Reviews

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Bach's gamba sonatas are usually heard on the cello or viola today, though for the latter, their register is low and some notes are entirely beyond its range. This confronts violists with the choice of transposing their part an octave up and playing on the bright-sounding high strings, or staying in the gamba register and playing on the subdued-sounding low strings. Most players choose the former, more brilliant alternative, but Kim Kashkashian opts for the less traveled, more difficult road, transposing up only where the part goes below her reach. Taking authenticity even further, she tunes a half-step down to match the harpsichord, and plays almost without vibrato. All this gives her tone a singularly pure, but also muted and somewhat unvaried quality, while the cembalo sounds strangely reverberant, so the blend between a real and a half-real Baroque instrument is still problematic. However, the players' stylistic and musical integrity, their rapport and unanimity of articulation, phrasing, and expression, as well as the technical perfection of their execution, are totally admirable. The performance may be unusual, but it's stamped by personal conviction and involvement. --Edith Eisler
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (March 7, 2000)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: ECM
  • ASIN: B000025FOY
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #214,547 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Format: Audio CD
if three of a perfect pair had not appeared as the title of a record in the past it is likely I would abuse the term. Kim, Keith and Johann make it happen here. The approach of Kashkashian and Jarrett to these obligato sonatas is cheerful, refreshing and I dare say full of love. Although the record is quite short, roughly 38 minutes, the musical impression it leaves on is of great magnitude. The sound is quite impressive as well.
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Format: Audio CD
The recording is excellent both sonically and musically. The modern viola sounds more like the viola da gamba than a cello does, the other modern instrument on which these works are played, and like the viola da gamba but unlike the cello, its volume doesn't overwhelm the sound of the harpsichord. The viola can't play the very lowest notes and has to transpose them up an octave but those moments aren't conspicuous. The recorded sound here has more presence than any other performance of these works that I know, and the performances are excellent as well, with brisk tempos that give the music great vitality - the CD is about 38 minutes long, compared with about 45 minutes for most other performances. The most prominent tempo difference is the Andante of the first sonata, which Kashkashian and Jarrett play in one minute and forty-six seconds, as against two and a half minutes in other recordings. There are two ways to interpret Andante (whose root meaning is to go or to walk), either by contrast with Allegro as somewhat slow (walking not running), or by contrast with Adagio as "moving along". Kashkashian and Jarrett take it in the second sense, which gives the movement a different character than other performances, but at that speed it loses the air of mystery conveyed by a slower tempo. Nevertheless, because of the excellent sound and the vitality and sensitivity of the performances, this is the performance of the viola da gamba sonatas that I most often listen to.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Extremely rich sound - every note, every nuance al beautifully produced and recorded. Fuller and more dense harmonic sound than any other Bach CD and all wonderfully interpreted.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
An essential recording for lovers of early music, purchased for a cellist who adores the gamba-like voice of the viola.
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