Written during his wonderfully productive Cöthen period, J.S. Bach's three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord have largely been adopted by cellists as part of their own repertoire. An array of recording options exist with various combinations of period- and non-period instruments and period-practice performance and modern performance practice. This Lyrichord album features harpsichordist Elaine Comparone joined by cellist Peter Seidenberg performing on a modern instrument with a modern bow. Overall, the performances are adequate but fail to truly distinguish themselves from others available to listeners. Comparone's playing is by far the highlight and her sound quality is best captured on the album, so much so that the cello is sometimes overly obscured. Seidenberg's playing is less crisp and precise and therefore less enjoyable than Comparone's. Intonation is not as pristine as it could and should be, particularly in the double-stops in the fourth movement of the D major Sonata. Within each sonata, there seems to be a lack of contrast in tempos with the fast movements being a bit stodgy and unenthusiastic. Seidenberg and Comparone have a clear connection to one another when playing, but simply need a bit more refinement in order to elevate their performance above the ordinary.
AllMusic Review by Mike D. Brownell
|Sonata No. 1 in G major, BWV 1027|
|Sonata No. 2 in D major, BWV 1028|
|Sonata No. 3 in G minor, BWV 1029|