Rachel Podger's growing reputation among early-music enthusiasts is buttressed by this set of Bach's sonatas for violin and continuo. Her intonation is always on target, her tone sweet but not cloying…
Steven Isserlis and Richard Egarr here assemble all the viola da gamba sonatas written by three composers born in the propitious year of 1685: one each by Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, and three by JS Bach. Isserlis plays them on the gamba’s modern cousin, the cello, and the microphone loves his playing, picking up all the nuances and scampering asides from his soft-spoken instrument which can sometimes get lost in big concert halls. Egarr on harpsichord matches Isserlis’s eloquence and rambunctious energy all the way. The dreamy, airy slow movement of Bach’s Sonata in G minor brings telling use of vibrato as Isserlis circles around Egarr, his playing at once idiomatic and soulful. An extra cellist reinforces the bass line in the Handel and Scarlatti, in which the composers give the harpsichordist only a framework; Egarr’s imaginative realisations ensure that even when Scarlatti is at his most repetitive, he is never dull.
The music on this recording demonstrates how composers in Germany, Italy, Austria and England responded to the challenges of writing for violin senza basso. Music for violin senza basso had a distinguished history before Bach and was widely cultivated by his contemporaries. Violinistic virtuosity was extraordinarily experimental in the late seventeenth century, with novelties in the tuning of the strings (scordaura), bowing techniques, chordal playing and contrapuntal textures (with the development of sophisticated double-, triple- and quadruple-stopping techniques) and playing in high positions. This disc of solo violin music is a real mixture of some of Rachel’s favourite pieces.
This is a true gem from the Baroque era that is rarely played or recorded. These fantasies for solo violin were written in 1735, only 15 yrs after Bach wrote his infinitely famous Sonatas and Partidas for solo violin. Fans of Bach looking for new music will be happy listening to these fresh works. I really enjoy the imagination and creativity displayed here, plenty of rhythmic diversity and unattached musical ideas to spare.
After recording Vivaldi's set of Violin Concertos 'La Stravaganza', Opus 4, in 2003, Rachel Podger has been immersed in music by Mozart and Bach on disc. But it has now felt right to come back to the Venetian Maestro, whose sense of drama she adores: “This time I chose his opus 9, the set of 12 Violin concertos entitled 'La Cetra'. There are plenty of jewels in this set, just as in 'La Stravaganza', with even higher technical demands made on the soloist including many, often exotic experimental effects.”
Brecon Baroque was founded in 2007 by violinist Rachel Podger as resident ensemble at her annual Brecon Baroque Festival.
An expert in the field of Baroque violin, Rachel Podger is back from the studio with another Bach album. This time, accompanied by the Brecon Baroque ensemble, she's focusing on some of Bach's double and triple concertos - BWV 1043 for Two Violins, BWV 1044 for Harpsichord, Flute and Violin, BWV for Violin and Oboe, and the Concerto for Three Violins, BWV 1064.
One of the most creative talents to emerge in the field of period performance over the last decade, Rachel Podger has established herself as a leading interpreter of the music of the Baroque and Classical periods.