The viola d'amore is one of many instruments whose popularity rose and fell within a relatively short time span. In this case, the viola d'amore was looked up to quite fondly during the Baroque era, and a respectable amount of literature was composed for it. The instrument typically has either six or seven strings with an equal number of sympathetically vibrating strings giving it a total of 12 to 14. These sympathetic strings are largely responsible for the viola d'amore's memorably warm, resonate sound. This unique quality also ensured that the instrument never fell completely out of favor, and composers such as Paul Hindemith have occasionally continued to write for it. This Analekta disc featuring Hélène Plouffe focuses on the earlier, original works for the instrument, including recognizable composers like Telemann, Bach, and Biber, as well as lesser-known names like Graupner, Milandre, and Petzold. Plouffe assembled a fine group of collaborators who join together for a disc filled with warm, elegant, and graceful chamber music. Plouffe's sound is remarkably clean and pure while at the same time giving listeners an excellent example of the depth that the extra resonating strings can provide. While the viola d'amore is clearly the lead player, the balance and interplay between the various musicians is one of equal partnerships. Plouffe provides an extensive, detailed description of the lovely instrument on which she plays; regrettably, no photograph is included.
Viola d'Amore Review
by Mike D. Brownell