Thomas Georgi / Lucas Harris / Mime Yamahiro-Brinkmann

Attilio Ariosti: The Stockholm Sonatas, Vol. 3

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Attilio Ariosti was an Italian Baroque composer and performer who worked in various European cities, although apparently not Stockholm, which is so attractively pictured on the cover of this BIS-label release from Sweden. The "Stockholm Sonatas" designation for these solo sonatas with continuo comes from the fact that American-Australian-Canadian viola d'amore player Thomas Georgi drew on a Stockholm manuscript in preparing a performing edition of these puzzling works. As he notes in his own booklet essay (in English, German, and French), the reason you rarely hear music for the viola d'amore, a small member of the viol family with six or seven strings and several sympathetic strings, is that it's hard to determine exactly what the music was supposed to sound like. This "viol of love," which often had a blindfolded face carved into its head, was a performer's instrument par excellence. Georgi's several recordings of Ariosti's 20-odd sonatas for the instrument differ from each other and are all in the nature of experiments, which he explains with enthusiasm and in detail. The tuning of the instrument was uncertain as well. The works on this disc rely on tunings in the soprano range, and the music here comes closer to the standard Italian solo sonata literature than do those on the earlier discs in the series. They have between three and five movements (most have four), in Italian church-sonata forms, and the program is attractively capped off by a little cantata playing on the words "viola," "violet," and "rose." The cantata is sung by Emma Kirkby, whose burnished tones mesh beautifully with those of Georgi's instrument. There is a characteristic bouncing humor in Ariosti's music that comes through everywhere, but one also gets the feeling that being in the presence of this odd instrument would be necessary to fully appreciate the player's artistry. No complaints at all about BIS' sound, which captures in full the range of gentle sounds made by the viola d'amore. Recommended for collections covering the full range of Baroque music; few other performers have devoted themselves to reconstructing the music of the viola da gamba as Georgi has done.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Sonata No. 15 in F minor
1 1:29
2 1:13
3 3:05
4 1:08
Sonata No. 16 in G major
5 2:02
6 1:42
7 1:53
Sonata No. 17 in B flat major
8 3:09
9 1:49
10 3:12
11 1:11
Sonata No. 18 in D minor
12 2:42
13 0:59
14 2:29
15 1:26
Sonata No. 19 in A minor
16 1:14
17 1:14
18 2:49
19 0:58
Sonata No. 20 in G minor
20 2:01
21 1:08
22 2:21
23 1:23
Sonata No. 21 in A minor
24 1:21
25 1:11
26 2:16
27 3:52
28 1:02
Pur alfin gentil viola, cantata
29 5:23
30 1:03
31 4:55
blue highlight denotes track pick