Monday, November 30, 2009

A Golden Age

A nice reminder that we're living in a golden age of instrument building, with entry-level instruments being produced (largely in China) at historically-low prices, top-end professional instruments are made by luthiers and builders of astonishing skill, and re-creations, conjectures, and experiments of every imaginable sort, from the astonishing viola da spalla above to circuit-benders laying-on-hands almost everywhere.  The notion that the Bach cello suites were composed for an instrument along the lines of that in the video is controversial, to say the least, but there ought not be much controversy about Sigiswald Kuijken's musicality, uniquely balancing the robust and the tender. 


Elaine Fine said...

Nifty! With this instrument violin players and violists can play in the cello register without having to acquire a new bow arm.

Actually many of the Bach cello suites were not written for the cello. #6 was written for the viola pomposa, #4 was written for the viola da gamba, and #5 was first written for the lute.

The remaining suites lie so well on the viola that I imagine Bach, who played the viola, used the viola to write them.

Thanks for posting this. Kuijken plays beautifully.

Thomas Dent said...

I would also like to arrange them for the harpsichord. But this 'viola di spalla' looks and sounds like a non-starter: strings either too loose or too thick to speak, or both, and body too small for the low notes and too large for the top note.

Not astonishing, just one of the many more strangely-proportioned instruments that were always being put together - and mostly died out.