Despite its versatile characteristic of being able to play simultaneous lines of melody and harmony, much of the literature written for the viola da gamba commonly to known to listeners today finds the instrument either in collaboration within a larger ensemble or at the very least with the accompaniment of a harpsichord (as in J.S. Bach's well-known Gamba sonatas). Rarely do we get to hear the versatile instrument on its own. Enter Margaret Little and her ATMA album, Senza Continuo. Little's choice of repertoire extends back as early as 1585 up through the late 1600s. Not surprisingly, the two centerpieces of the program are suites, a form highly popularized in the Baroque. In all cases, Little's playing truly brings this ancient instrument to life. Her execution is highly stylized but consistent with period performance practice. The nuance in tempo variation, ornamentation, and pulsing dynamic emphasis provides an unmistakable shape and contour to her program. She nimbly darts around the instrument's vast fingerboard; her right arm is graceful, well-articulated, and elegant. The only thing detracting from this masterful performance is ATMA's recorded sound quality, which is regrettably so reverberant, echoic, and overly resonant in the instrument's lower register that much of the detail and precision that Little puts into her playing is lost.
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AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Trois Préludes en ré mineur (Manus, S.D.)|
|Suite de pièces pour viole en sol majeur (Pièces de viole, Paris, 1685)|
|Suite de pièces pour viole en ré majeur (Premier Livre de Pièces de viole, Paris, 1686)|