The program focused on the viola da gamba, with works by Rameau, Bach and Marais. Three instruments were featured, gamba (Shuang Ng), violin (Tara Hashanbuoy) and harpsichord (Diana Weston). This concert was a repeat of one given the day before in Burradoo.
In the Premier Concert from Rameau’s Pièces de Clavecins en concerts, the gamba played mostly a continuo part, thus it was not really the centre of attention. Hashanbuoy played the baroque violin with stylistic accuracy, terraced dynamics, minimal vibrato, gracious ornamentation and swells on longer notes. In the Cinquième Concert from the same collection however, the gamba and violin were equals and the musical interplay was well matched.
Weston’s harpsichord, a magnificent insturment, bright but with a full resonant bass, was played with confidence and panache. The acoustics of St Lukes mosman are ideally suited to this kind of music. The program notes were informative about the pieces and performers, but I would have like to have learnt a little about their actual instruments.
Bach’s Sonata in G minor for gamba and haprsichord BWV 1029 features the gamba as soloist and Ng played with delicacy. His tone was never forced and the swelling characteristic of the underhand bowing was used to musical effect, especially in the slow movement. Occasionally I found it hard to hear the lower strings over the strength of the harpsichord, but far be it for me to complain that a harpsichord is too loud. The harpsichord is really an equal in this work; not just an accompaniment. At any rate it did not mar the performance or my enjoyment of it. The ornamentation was tasteful and appropriate and the fiendish final movement was played with gusto.
Marin Marais dedicated a huge part of his opus to the gamba. The lively Chacone presented in this program, Sonnerie de St Genevieve du Mont de Paris, was based on a “ground” of just three descending notes. It showed the capabilities of the gamba to good effect as it embelished the three note motive against counter melodies in the violin above. It was interesting to hear this unusual piece and so capably played.
Rounding off the program was a Bach choral prelude Ich ruf’ zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 639.
An enjoyable afternoon of Baroque music.