Il vero Orfeo - Sonatas for viola da gamba by and inspired by Arcangelo Corelli
Johann SCHENCK (c1660-1712) Prelude from Sonata V in E minor) [3:22]
Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Sonata VIII in E minor [12:11]
Prélude (Improvisation for harpsichord) [1:06]
Georg Friederich HÄNDEL (1685-1759)
Sonata in G minor [7:10]
Prélude (Improvisation for lute)
Arcangelo CORELLI
Sonata III in C minor [12:34]
Sonata II in A minor [9:57]
Arcangelo CORELLI
Sonata VI in G major [11:32]
Friederike Heumann (viola da gamba); Patrick Sepec (baroque violoncello);Eduardo Egüez (theorbo); Dick Börner (harpsichord, organ)
rec. 29 June-2 July 2010, Église de Franc-Warêt, Belgium
ACCENT ACC24233 [58:29]
Johan van Veen’s review of this disc provides a very good introduction to its content. Aside from the marvellously sensitive, perhaps at times even overly sensitive way these pieces are played, compliments go to all concerned for a very well-conceived programmatic development over the course of the disc. Starting with a lonely Prélude, strings combine for the gorgeous first movement Largo of Corelli’s Sonata VIII. Crisp harpsichord continuo further changes the texture, separating the first two sonatas with a splendidly inventive solo improvisation. While Corelli’s work is entertaining enough, Handel is always a tasty prospect, and his G minor Sonata is no disappointment, Friederike Heumann adding in her own extra improvisatory feel with some nicely turned ornaments.
Another change and contrast is delivered through the gentle tones of a lute improvisation, a fine Prélude to Corelli’s Sonata III. The combination of instruments creates superb sonorities in the opening Adagio, and there is plenty of fun in the punchy harpsichord chords in the penultimate Allegro, a groovy foundation for virtuoso display from the viola da gamba. Just as the ear is starting to become hungry for new textures we are rewarded with the addition of a rich sounding organ as part of Johann Schenk’s Sonata II. The mix of warmly rounded wind sounds suits the upper-harmonic rich melodic lines of the gamba, with that sprinkle of added pointillism from the lute to give a light lustre finish. The harpsichord continuo returns for the final work, Corelli’s Sonata VI.
With the idea of proving the effectiveness of these viola da gamba arrangements of Corelli’s violin sonatas and pointing out the relationships and influences between the composers presented, this recording has to be considered a great success. The low but melodically clear function of the viola da gamba creates a darker but by no means gloomy impression, and in Friederike Heumann’s expert hands the speedy virtuosity avoids turning into ill-defined scrubbing - always a risk with deeper cello-range or bass string instruments. With a nicely defined and sympathetically produced recording this CD is a lovely musical experience, and one which is a delight to take in in one luxuriant sitting.
Dominy Clements 
Good to be taken in one luxuriant sitting.