Saturday, April 23, 2011

KF Abel & JC Bach - Chamber Music - Il Gardellino







In 1764 a couple of German musicians lodged together in London. They shared a sort of common background, for one was the youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, newly arrived in town to write opera, and the other, Carl Friedrich Abel, had been Bach’s student back in Leipzig more than a decade earlier. He was in town to make his living as a composer of instrumental works and as a performer on that now-anachronistic instrument the viola da gamba. The two apparently hit it off quite well, for they soon conspired to develop the famed Bach-Abel concert series that became a fixture in the city for more than a decade and a half. Given that they also contrived to perform as well, it is not surprising that both menPortrait of Carl Friedrich Abel by Thomas Gainsborough, 1777 created a wide variety of works for their instruments, Bach on the keyboard and Abel on his gamba. Given that the latter was hardly fit to compete against larger ensembles, it of necessity was confined to smaller chamber works, which were often published for general consumption among musical cognoscenti. These concerts lasted up to Bach’s death in 1782 and a tad beyond, although both leaders had gone their own separate ways some time before and the series was in decline. This disc presents a nice set of unusual chamber works that typify the sort of music that one might have found either on the programs of the series or in the intimate soirées that may have been held in the homes of one or another patron on a warm English summer evening (and yes, it can be warm in London during the summer). The grouping is eclectic, but focused on Abel’s instrument along with a flute and/or oboe to provide tone color. The works, a pair of solo gamba sonatas, three quartets, a quintet, and Bach’s larger sextet, offer a nice variety of pieces that go well together. The performance by the chamber group Il Gardellino is very smooth. In tune and sensitive to each other, the players create a nice set of intimate interactions that bring out the nuances of this finely detailed music.


flac, scans

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