Senza Continuo

( 3 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mike D. Brownell
Despite its versatile characteristic of being able to play simultaneous lines of melody and harmony, much of the literature written for the viola da gamba commonly to known to listeners today finds the instrument either in collaboration within a larger ensemble or at the very least with the accompaniment of a harpsichord as in J.S. Bach's well-known Gamba sonatas. Rarely do we get to hear the versatile instrument on its own. Enter Margaret Little and her ATMA album, Senza Continuo. Little's choice of repertoire extends back as early as 1585 up through the late 1600s. Not surprisingly, the two centerpieces of the program are suites, a form highly popularized in the ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Mike D. Brownell
Despite its versatile characteristic of being able to play simultaneous lines of melody and harmony, much of the literature written for the viola da gamba commonly to known to listeners today finds the instrument either in collaboration within a larger ensemble or at the very least with the accompaniment of a harpsichord as in J.S. Bach's well-known Gamba sonatas. Rarely do we get to hear the versatile instrument on its own. Enter Margaret Little and her ATMA album, Senza Continuo. Little's choice of repertoire extends back as early as 1585 up through the late 1600s. Not surprisingly, the two centerpieces of the program are suites, a form highly popularized in the Baroque. In all cases, Little's playing truly brings this ancient instrument to life. Her execution is highly stylized but consistent with period performance practice. The nuance in tempo variation, ornamentation, and pulsing dynamic emphasis provides an unmistakable shape and contour to her program. She nimbly darts around the instrument's vast fingerboard; her right arm is graceful, well-articulated, and elegant. The only thing detracting from this masterful performance is ATMA's recorded sound quality, which is regrettably so reverberant, echoic, and overly resonant in the instrument's lower register that much of the detail and precision that Little puts into her playing is lost.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 3/30/2010
  • Label: Atma Classique
  • UPC: 722056261227
  • Catalog Number: 2612
  • Sales rank: 190,418

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1 Touche me lightly (No 38 in Musical Humors) - Tobias Hume & Margaret Little (1:23)
  2. 2 Good againe (No 14 in Musical Humors) - Tobias Hume & Margaret Little (5:23)
  3. 3 Suite for viola da gamba & continuo in D major (Pi├Ęces de viole, Book I, Nos. 28-47) - Marin Marais & Margaret Little (20:11)
  4. 4 Tickle Me Quickly - Tobias Hume & Margaret Little (1:02)
  5. 5 A humorous Pavin (Musical Humors, 43) - Tobias Hume & Margaret Little (5:20)
  6. 6 Ricercata quarta - Giovanni Bassano & Margaret Little (2:41)
  7. 7 Suite for viola da gamba No. 4 in G major - Machy (Demachy) & Margaret Little (14:48)
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Margaret Little Primary Artist
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Subtle beauties

    I've never heard a bad recording involving viola da gambist Margaret Little. If you care anything about early music you will know her from a steady stream of excellent recordings she has made with a number of Montréal-based ensembles including Studio de Musique ancienne dé Montréal, Les Boréades and others for the ATMA Classique label. She's probably best known as one half (with gambist Susie Napper) of the superb duo Les Voix humaines. On Senza Continuo Little goes solo in a program of French, Italian and English music from the renaissance and early baroque.

    There are few instruments with as much expressive power and pure tonal beauty as the viola da gamba and since it could play both melody and harmony, there is some fine solo repertoire for the instrument. Little has chosen some real beauties for this recording. As would be expected there's music by two French composers closely associated with the instrument: Jean De Sainte-Colombe and Marin Marais. Napper and Little have recorded Sainte-Colombe's seminal Concerts á deux violes égales, so it's especially pleasing to hear her in three of his solo works (he wrote nearly 177 solo works for the gamba). This is music that pushes the instrument (and soloist) to expressive and technical limits and Little excels. Little also makes the most of the pieces by Marais which were apparently intended to be played with basso continuo (the continuo parts were delayed at Marais' printer) but played solo here. The Italian music - ricercars by Aurelio Virgiliano and Giovanni Bassano - require no small measure of technical flash and once again Little is up to the challenge. In some ways a set of pieces from Tobias Hume's First Book of Ayres is best of all. Hume was one of the first and finest composers to write for the gamba as a purely solo instrument and the seven dance movements heard here really showcase his best efforts.

    As I said earlier, Little has technique aplenty but also an almost preternatural gift for channeling the composer's thoughts and communicating them through the instrument, for me this was particularly noticeable in the Marais and Hume. The recording quality really captures the natural voice of strings and wood and makes for some of the most intimately realistic sound I've heard.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    String Theory

    Her approach has a romantic feel, and her connection with the viol shines through, rich in emotion and feeling. The sound quality here is phenomenal, and I dare say this would be an audiophile's delight when showing off an audio system.

    My favorite piece on the album is Little's rendering of Tobias Hume's The First Booke Of Ayres, where the viol is not only played with a bow but is also strummed. The piece is sometimes dramatic and at times playful, with titles of movements like Tickle me quickly and Touch me lightly. It's an adventurous piece that ventures outside expectations and makes this recording a must have for lovers of solo string performances.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    String Theory

    This is a beautiful collection of solo works for the viola da gamba (or viol), as performed by Margaret Little, in her first solo effort. In case you're not familiar with the instrument, the viola da gamba is a cousin of the lute, and comes in a variety of sizes, from treble to contrabass. It looks like a cello, but has six strings instead of four, and has a different tuning. The CD booklet covers some of the history of the instrument, along with an overview of the composers that are showcased.

    The sound of the viola da gamba in Little's hands is striking. There is a depth and range that surely sets it apart from other stringed instruments, with soaring high notes and resounding bass that jumps dynamically from the speakers. Her approach has a romantic feel, and her connection with the viol shines through, rich in emotion and feeling. The sound quality here is phenomenal, and I dare say this would be an audiophile's delight when showing off an audio system.

    My favorite piece on the album is Little's rendering of Tobias Hume's The First Booke Of Ayres, where the viol is not only played with a bow but is also strummed. The piece is sometimes dramatic and at times playful, with titles of movements like Tickle me quickly and Touch me lightly. It's an adventurous piece that ventures outside expectations and makes this recording a must have for lovers of solo string performances.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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