Bach: Sonatas for viola da gamba (cello) and harpsichord – in G major, BWV1027; in D major, BWV1028; in G minor, BWV1029; CPE Bach: Trio in G minor, Wq88

Reviewed on Wed 06 May, 2015

Two members of the Brook Street Band, Tatty Theo and Carolyn Gibley, here duet on the viola da gamba sonatas by Bach father and son. The twist here is that Theo plays a four-string baroque cello instead of the six-string bass gamba for which these pieces were written. The musicological grounds for doing so are shaky at best: on the plus side, the cello has a more resonant tone that is especially noticeable in the lyrical slow movements; however, the gamba is a more nimble beast in the faster passages, where by virtue of having two strings missing Theo is forced to skip a little awkwardly up and down the neck (for his 1991 recording, Anner Bylsma chose as a happy compromise a five-string piccolo cello). That said, Theo and Gibley have a close rapport, and their instrument choice pays off more effectively in the slightly later CPE Bach Trio.
–Mark Walker