The Strad Issue: January 2007
Musicians: Thomas Georgi (viola d’amore) Lucas Harris (archlute, guitar) Mime Yamahiro Brinkmann (cello)
Composer: Ariosti

This is the second volume of the complete music for viola d’amore by Attilio Ariosti (the first was reviewed in October 2006). The Recueil de pie?ces pour la viole d’amour is preserved in the Statens Musikbibliotek in Stockholm (hence the name ‘Stockholm Sonatas’ by which the music is generally known). The manuscript, copied by Ariosti’s younger Swedish colleague Johann Helmich Roman, consists of fifteen sonatas, seven of which are included here.

Thomas Georgi, a member of the Toronto-based group Tafelmusik, is completely at home in this repertoire, of which he has obviously made a thorough study. It is impossible to play this music without a complete understanding of Ariosti’s unique scordatura system,
in which almost every sonata requires a different tuning. Since the Recueil is written in real notation (as opposed to scordatura notation), you have to start by figuring out which tuning to use.

Ariosti’s music is strongly influenced by Corelli, so it is only appropriate that, when it comes to embellishing repeats, Georgi should take as a model the ‘graces’ written both by Roman and by Matthew Dubourg for Corelli’s slightly earlier set of violin sonatas op.5. Characteristic of Ariosti’s style is also the use of ‘petites reprises’ (a written-out repetition of the last bars of a section), and Georgi isn’t afraid of adding an unwritten ‘petite reprise’ of his own here and there.

Georgi is an enviable example of a scholarly virtuoso, whose playing is consistently stylish and spontaneous. A varying continuo group accompanies his Thomas Eberle 1783 viola d’amore, and the recording is up to BIS’s high standards.