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A delight

Linden and Egarr play
Bach Gamba sonatas -
is impressed

'... a wonderful original instruments recording ...'

Bach Gamba Sonatas/Capricci. Jaap ter Linden, Richard Egarr. © 2000 harmonia mundi usa

Gamba is Italian for leg and so a viola large enough to require support from the legs came to be known as a viola da gamba, or often today just gamba. Jaap ter Linden here plays an instrument made in the late seventeenth century. He produces a warm, full tone with an occasional almost imperceptible vibrato [listen -- track 1, 0:03-1:16]. Richard Egarr, much in demand for a variety of keyboard music, performs on a modern harpsichord patterned after an early seventeenth century instrument. It has an unusually rich sound and that's especially appropriate because Bach intends a full partner rather than a continuo instrument [listen -- track 2, 0:00-1:01].

Some of the competition's engineers take their performers out of the running by making the harpsichord sound like it's behind a curtain. That's a particular danger in the cello-superstar recordings, the cello a more powerful instrument to begin with. Yo-Yo Ma might as well have played a solo for his version. The cello sound is gorgeous, but the performance doesn't do justice to the interplay of instruments. The historic Casals version with cello and piano suffers from the same problem.

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Copyright © 9 April 2003 Ron Bierman, San Diego, USA


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