Fifteen years after his recording of Bach’s three Sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord (on hm, with Rinaldo Alessandrini), Paolo Pandolfo returns to this repertoire a new approach: the fruit of active and concentrated years of consideration, study and research into the inherent possibilities of his instrument. Given the basic differing natures of these two instruments, the performance of these works very often turns – in Pandolfo’s words – into a “musical argument”, rather than what is demanded by the music’s essential nature: a “musical conversation” in which the score achieves “transparency and eloquence”.
Over the years I have heard many recordings of music written for the Imperial court in Vienna. That’s no wonder: Vienna was a centre of music-making in Europe. During the 17th and 18th centuries some of the best musicians and composers were in the service of the Habsburg emperors. Most of the recordings concentrate on music for violins or voice. This disc is different in that it presents music for viol consort. That’s all the more interesting, as it is often thought that in the 17th century consort music was only written in France and England. It is quite surprising that this kind of music was also written in Austria. Most musicians in the service of the Imperial court were from Italy, where the viol consort had gone out of fashion since the first quarter of the 17th century. The fact that Italian composers wrote music for viol consort was due to the personal preferences of the emperors, Ferdinand III and Leopold I, who also wrote some music for this kind of ensemble themselves.
For starters, there are no bagpipes on this weird and wonderful mix of 17th- and 18th-century music arranged for lute, ceterone, viola da gamba, and lyra viol. But the playing by Vittorio Ghielmi and Luca Pianca (founder of the Giardino Armonico ensemble) on Bagpipes from Hell will have you fooled that something wheezy is at work here. It's an odd mix of dances, including jigs, and folk-inspired numbers […] that somehow blends the droning elements of bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy with the intricate delicacy of baroque composition […] and the playing throughout is intense and exquisitely recorded. (Jason Verlinde)
Is it too early to start my "Recordings of the Year" list? The music and performances on this release are nothing short of a revelation. CPO is always willing to take a chance on a rare composer, and this gamble hits the jackpot. […] This is among the most brilliant, sophisticated music to come out of the Baroque, and Schenck's mastery of the possibilities of the viola da gamba surely rivals Saint-Colombe and Marais. His style shows all the usual French, German, and Italian influences, with a slight emphasis on the French but with a decidedly Germanic attitude toward the dance forms. (David Preiser, ClassicsToday.com)
World premiere recording
These ricercares come from two publications, one Italian and one Spanish, intended for the instruction of instrumentalists in the tasteful practice of improvisation and ornamentation of pre-existing melodies, a practice called 'diminution' or 'division.' In other words, they are textbooks for performers and as such have served every professional wind and string player of our times as guides to historical performance practice. They are indispensible.