Recordings/Discussions
Background Information
Performer Bios

Poet/Composer Bios

Additional Information

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Sonatas for Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord BWV 1027-1029
Alison Crum (Viola da Gamba) & Laurence Cummings (Harpsichord)
Review of Bach Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord by Alison Crum and Laurence Cummings

H-1

J.S. Bach: Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsihord

 

WTC 1: Prelude & Fugue No. 5 in D major, BWV 850 [3:55]
WTC 1: Prelude & Fugue No. 15 in G major, BWV 860 [4:19]
WTC 1: Prelude & Fugue No. 16 in G minor, BWV 861 [4:03]
Sonatas for viola da gamba & harpsichord BWV 1027-1029 [13:24, 14:28, 15:03]

Alison Crum (Viola da gamba); Laurence Cummings (Harpsichord)

Signum UK SIGCD-024

Nov 26, 1999

CD / TT: 55:12
MP3 / TT: 55:08

Recorded at St. Andrews Church, Toddington, Gloucestershire, England.
Review: Bach's Viola da Gamba Sonatas from Laurence Cummings [D. Satz]
Review of Bach Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord by Alison Crum and Laurence Cummings [K. McElhearn]
Buy this album at:
CD (2000): Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de
CD (2000): Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de
CD (2011): Amazon.com | Amazon.de
Music Download (2000): Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de
Music Download (2009): Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.de | ClassicsOnline

Kirk McElhearn wrote (June 30, 2001):
Note - thanks to the list for the recent discussion. I may have lifted a few expressions from your comments...

While I am an unconditional Bach-lover, I have always felt that the sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord were minor works. Having heard several different recordings, both with the gamba and cello, they never really convinced me of their value. I had come to the conclusion that they were indeed uninteresting, and left it at that.

Until I heard this recording.

From the very first notes, I knew there was something different, and I can honestly say that this extraordinary recording has totally changed my point of view of these works.

Essentially simple pieces, with the viol playing one voice and the harpsichord playing two voices (in the first two sonatas, composed like trio sonatas), these three pieces do not stand because of any special form or structure. Written over a period of time, and not destined to be a set like the solo cello suites or violin sonatas and partitas, these are unimposing works. The first two sonatas each contain four movements, in the slow-fast-slow-fast form, and the third sonata contains only three movements (fast-slow-fast). The third sonata, less of a trio sonata than a Vivaldian concerto, has a different tone, more virtuoso than the first two, especially in the harpsichord part.

But what sets this performance apart from others? First of all, the two musicians are both excellent on their own, and even better together. They perform these works with such energy and emotion that one is surprised, especially when comparing them to other recordings, such as those by Jordi Savall and Ton Koopman or Anner Bylsma and Bob van Asperen. But, also, the sound of this recording stands out so, that it almost shines a totally new light on the work. Most recordings of these sonatas feature the harpsichord in a very subservient role - the gamba dominates, and the harpsichord goes about its business in the background. Here, the harpsichord and gamba are both on the same plane - after all, in the first two sonatas, which are really trio sonatas, the harpsichord is playing two-thirds of the music. This is a very gutsy choice, on the part of the performers and/or the producer; yet it is entirely judicious.

This is not without a down-side - listening on speakers, the harpsichord seems to drown out the gamba in some passages. However, this is not the case with headphones, where the gamba is spatially located more to the left and the harpsichord more to the right. (I would recommend adjusting the balance slightly with speakers.)

The instruments also sound fresh and alive: the gamba is a beautifully rich instrument, which, as Alison Crum's comments point out, has a very focused sound. As for the harpsichord, it is strung entirely with brass, which gives it a huge, yet precise sound that is not heard often.

A brief note about this disc's "filler". Since the gamba sonatas are not very long, most recent recordings feature additional music. This recording includes three preludes and fugues from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book I, in the three keys of the sonatas. While Laurence Cummings plays these extraordinarily well (I sincerely hope he records the entire set!), I find these a bit of a distraction on the disc. One can always program around them, so it is not a major problem.

This is perhaps the best recording available of Bach's Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord. Beautiful performances by both musicians, instruments that sound fresh and alive, and an excellent recording make this an essential disc for any Bach lover.

This, my friends, is as close to a must-have disc I have heard in a long time.

Buy from Amazon.com: Amazon.com

 

Sonatas for Viola da Gamba & Harpsichord BWV 1027-1029: Details
Recordings:
Reviews of Individual Recordings:
Comparative Review (3 Parts) | Sonatas for VdG & Harpsichord - Crum & Cummings [D. Satz] | Sonatas for VdG & Harpsichord - Crum & Cummings [K. McElhearn] | Sonatas for VdG & Harpsichord - Ghielmi & Ghielmi [J. Morrison] | Sonatas for VdG & Harpsichord - Savall & Koopman [S. Schwartz]
General Discussions:
Part 1

Alison Crum: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach's Viola da Gamba Sonatas from Laurence Cummings [D. Satz] | Review of Bach Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord by Alison Crum and Laurence Cummings [K. McElhearn]

Laurence Cummings: Short Biography | Recordings of Instrumental Works | Recordings of Vocal Works
Reviews of Instrumental Recordings:
Bach's Viola da Gamba Sonatas from Laurence Cummings [D. Satz] | Review of Bach Sonatas for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord by Alison Crum and Laurence Cummings [K. McElhearn]

Instrumental Works: Recordings, Reviews & Discussions - Main Page | Order of Discussion
Recording Reviews of Instrumental Works: Main Page | Organ | Keyboard | Solo Instrumental | Chamber | Orchestral, MO, AOF
Performers of Instrumental Works: Main Page | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

Introduction | Cantatas | Other Vocal | Instrumental | Performers | General Topics | Articles | Books | Movies | New
Biographies | Texts & Translations | Scores | References | Commentaries | Music | Concerts | Festivals | Tour | Art & Memorabilia
Chorale Texts | Chorale Melodies | Lutheran Church Year | Readings | Poets & Composers | Arrangements & Transcriptions
Search Website | Search Works/Movements | Terms & Abbreviations | Copyright | How to contribute | Sitemap | Links



 

Back to the Top


Last update: ýJanuary 4, 2013 ý23:46:13