The Strad issue
An interesting revival of music from the English Baroque
Hamburger Ratsmusik/Simone Eckert (viola da gamba/director)
Viol player William Young’s collection of Sonate a 3, 4 e 5 (1653) was the first by an Englishman explicitly to prescribe the use of violins. The members of Simone Eckert’s Hamburger Ratsmusik perform selections from Young’s output with characteristic insight and elan, embracing a wide variety of instrumental combinations.
Highlights include a Suite in D minor for solo viol, in which shapely cadences are lingered over, a Suite in G minor for two gambas, in which melodic lines breathe with a spontaneous elasticity, particularly in the expressive opening Pavan, and a Sonata for two violins and continuo, in which the canzona is cleanly articulated and the ensuing dances are played with irresistible verve and timing. These performers radiate real empathy for the idiom in two fantasias for three viols and play two sonatas for three violins and continuo from the 1653 publication and three Sonatas for violin, gamba and continuo with accomplished artistry and unanimity of purpose.
Further, their account of Young’s Divisions on a Ground in G minor features commendable solo gamba spontaneity over a colourful theorbo accompaniment. Regrettably, it is not always clear which of the performers is contributing to this disc’s various tracks, but the recording itself is natural, immediate and well balanced.