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Anatoli Grindenko (Viola da Gamba) and Alexander Suetin (Baroque Lute) : CD

TELEMANN: Sonate A moll fur Viola da Gamba and Basso Continuo: WEISS: Sarabande A moll for Lute solo ( Moscow Manuscript) : ABEL: Sonate G dur fur vIola da Gamba solo: E. GAULTIER : Allemande for lute solo : FORQUERAY : Pieces de Viole avec la Basse Continue : a) La Leon Sarabande b) La Montigni c) La Silva d) Le Carillion de Passy.

Anatoli Grindenko (Viola da Gamba) and Alexander Suetin (Baroque Lute)

ART Service Music Publishing: ART 119

This is quite a rare combination of instruments nowadays, as you would have to dig quite extensively into a label’s recordings to find another of this combination. So this Russian label has brought something that you might not have come across before. Naturally the 13 course Baroque Lute is a mighty instrument indeed that makes a sound quite different from its Renaissance relative, owing to its extra depth of notes in the bass end, and meanwhile the Viola da Gamba with its seven strings makes quite a different sound from its modern cousins in today’s orchestras. So this combination is an interesting one to hear in such repertoire as this.

The opening four -movement Telemann was originally for the Viola da Gamba with a Basso Continuo, here taken over by the Baroque Lute, and it is indeed telling that none of the pieces are specifically written for the combination as recorded here. It is in the usual slow- fast – slow – fast combination, and the sound world is compelling and clear, although perhaps I would have liked the Lute a couple of notches higher in the mix at times as the Viola da Gamba is resonant instrument that does take over the sound somewhat at times .

The true depth of sound of the Baroque Lute comes to the fore in the Weiss Sarabande. Weiss of course wrote extensively for this instrument and indeed his works at times have the same depth and quality of Bach’s instrumental pieces, and it was only, I feel, the fact that he happened to devote his life to writing for an instrument that was after Weiss and Bach’s deaths, about to slide into oblivion for hundreds of years until its revival in the 20th Century, that stopped Weiss from being every bit as well known and well-loved as Bach. Such are the depth and beautiful sound world of his writing, and Alexander Suetin’s performance is wonderfully secure and has a beautiful rich sound.

Carl Friedrich Abel’s Sonata in G for Viola da Gamba solo is in three movements, an Adagio, an Allegro and a concluding Minuet, and here again the quality of the writing for this lovely instrument and indeed the beauty of the performance by Anatoli Grindenko is a pleasure to hear.

Then we find another solo Lute work, this time an Allemande by Gaultier, and quite different in style to the Weiss a few minutes before. This piece is lighter in touch, and relies less on an extensive bass for its sound world.

The final four pieces by Antoine Forqueray are for our two players again. Forqueray was a French composer and virtuoso of the viola da Gamba. Forqueray, born in Paris, was the first in a line of composers which included his sons Jean-Baptiste and Nicolas Gilles as well as his brother Michel. La Leon , a Sarabande is grand and eloquently played , whilst the following La Montigni is faster and has a complex musical line that is aptly captured by our duo. La Silva is slow and emotional by contrast, and the final La Carillion de Passy has, as you might imagine, a repetitive melodic line that partially mimics the Carillion sound, and Passy being an area in France. The resulting piece is constantly interesting and the sound nicely captured and wonderfully played.

This combination is definitely one to hear, as long as you are happy with Baroque music for the entire CD. If so, I am sure that you will come across music that, for the greater part, you almost certainly will not know, but will be happy to have come across on this finely played and recorded album.

Chris Dumigan

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