It has never been easy for cellists to adapt the Bach sonatas for viola da gamba to their instrument; not that they haven’t tried. Since Bach wrote no works for cello and accompaniment, these three sonatas are the closest they have! With four strings instead of the gamba’s six, the cello poses many difficulties in the transcription, but cellist Audrey Cienniwa has attempted to bridge the performance gap by placing the sonatas on the cello’s little sibling, the five stringed piccolo cello.
Of the many compositions Johann Sebastian Bach wrote for his students at the University of Leipzig there exist only these three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord. The style of writing Bach used makes use of the unique relationship of the gamba and harpsichord by creating a trio sonata writing, of sorts, putting two voices and an independent bass line in the hands of the gambist and the second melody and bass line on the harpsichord. Audrey and Paul Cienniwa present these sonatas on this release from Whaling City Sound.
Our quick pick this week is the latest in the American Classics series from Naxos. The music of Michael Daugherty is highlighted by the Neeme Järvi and the Detroit Symphony who are joined by violinist Ida Kavafian. Stunning performances are given of Daugherty’s Raise the Roof, MotorCity Triptych, and Fire and Blood.