Bach: Sonatas for Viola da Gamba

Bach: Sonatas for Viola da Gamba

by Audrey Cienniwa


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Bach: Sonatas for Viola da Gamba

J.S. Bach's "Three Sonatas for viola da gamba" have been almost completely adopted into the cello repertoire. This, despite the fact that the sonatas were originally composed for a vastly different, six-string, fretted instrument with a substantially higher range (without shifting into higher positions) than the modern cello. Still, the cello is the closest modern instrument available to imitate the tone of the gamba. Cellist Audrey Cienniwa has chosen a slightly different route than many other cellists who have recorded the sonatas; she performs on a violoncello piccolo, a five string instrument with which Bach was familiar and likely composed the "Sixth Solo Suite" for. The addition of the fifth, higher string reduces the amount of shifting into upper positions that is needed. Despite the innovative instrumentation idea, however, Cienniwa's playing is rather unremarkable. Rapid passages, such as the final movements of both the "Second" and "Third" sonatas, are not clean despite the reduction in shifting. Intonation is far from perfect, and Cienniwa has far too many slides into notes to make this a convincing Baroque recording. Slow movements tend to be rather pedantic, lacking in forward momentum and direction. Overall sound quality and balance between cello and harpsichord is pleasing, but is certainly not enough to make up for the technical and musical shortcomings.

Product Details

Release Date: 07/14/2009
Label: Whaling City Sound
UPC: 0687606004627
catalogNumber: 46
Rank: 238821


  1. Sonata for viola da gamba & keyboard No. 1 in G major, BWV 1027
  2. Sonata for viola da gamba & keyboard No. 2 in D major, BWV 1028
  3. Sonata for viola da gamba & keyboard No. 3 in G minor, BWV 1029
  4. Cantata No. 175, "Er rufet seinen Schafen mit Namen," BWV 175 (BC A89): Es dünket mich
  5. Cantata No. 183, "Sie werden euch in den Bann tun," BWV 183 (BC A79): Ich fürchte nicht

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