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BACH Suite in D minor BWV 1011/995; Trio in A BWV 1025 (after Weiss); Sonata in G minor BWV 1029.  Hille Perl (viola da gamba) with Lee Santana (lute), Andrew Lawrence-King (harp), Veronika Skuplik (violin) and Barbara Messmer (second viola da gamba).  Deutsche Harmonia Mundi 05472 77515 2; 65 mins.
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If you have already in your collection half a dozen of the two score recordings of the Bach cello suites in the current catalogue, you would not need to add this one, which is normally played in C minor and on the cello, necessitating scordatura notation and retuning of the top string. Hille Perl explains that in D minor she has restored a natural tuning for the gamba. I think these minutiae are better left to the specialist Early Music journals!

The considerable interest of Hille Perl's CD for the ordinary listener will be in the trio, and in the sonata freely arranged as a small instrumental concerto. Silvius Leopold Weiss was a famous lutenist, and his suite was transcribed and expanded by Bach. Hille Perl writes how its final allegro is "close to hell for the lutenist, kind of relaxing for the gambist" and overall "with a musical feeling more like heaven after all"!

Together, the three works make for a delightful hour's listening. It is all just a little unfamiliar, with unusual instrumental combinations, which hold the interest. Hille Perl is devoted to the gamba, which she has played all her life, and in her detailed discussion of the background to this venture she explains how it was a common practise in Bach's time for gamba and lute players to adapt all kinds of compositions to their repertoire.

The recording is good and the playing throughout affectionate and involving. The notes combine musicological commentary with a very personal account of the pieces as they feel to Hillel Perl, and the genesis of her selection and arrangements to create a unique programme, designed to demonstrate three totally different facets of an "ingenious composer".


Peter Grahame Woolf


Peter Grahame Woolf

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