Bach Gamba Sonatas on Orfeo

2007-10-15 / Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger / Tim Homfray

Sublime Bach from Daniel Müller-Schott

lf the case must still be made for the performance of Baroque music on the wrong instruments, this CD will suffice. Daniel Müller-Schott plays Bach’s Gamba Sonatas on the cello (albeit a wonderfully sonorous Matteo Gofriller instrument from 1727) with Angela Hewitt on the piano. Both have impeccable credentials:
Müller-Schott has a well-received CD of the Bach solo suites on the Glissando label under his belt, and Hewitt has made a speciality of Bach’s keyboard music. They bring to these works a profound feeling for the ebb and flow of Bach’s lines, the shapes of his long-extended melodies, and the rigour and expressiveness of his counterpoint. Most of this music is not for solo instrument and continuo, but is in three parts, with an obbligato right-hand line for the keyboard. Müller-Schott has both to blend and contrast with the piano, which he does with unerring skill and sensitivity, interweaving with Hewitt’s playing in a three-way conversation of free-flowing subtlety.

There is energy here, and declamation, but it is the sheer empathy in this playing, the communication between players and outward to the listener, that is most striking. At times, as in the third movement of the G major Sonata, the players conjure a sort of bleak majesty. At others, particularly in the second movement Adagio of the G minor, they achieve seamless, compelling lyricism little short of sublime. ln C.P.E. Bach’s Sonata, reaching away from Johann Sebastian into the Classical style, they generate warmth and geniality. The recorded balance, so crucial here, is excellent, the sound warm and immediate.