BACH: Sonatas BWV 1027, 1028, 1029; Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 645; O Mensch, bewein’ dein Sunde, BWV 622; Nun komm’, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 659 – Hariolf Schlichtig, viola/ Yumi Sekiya, piano – MD&G multichannel SACD (2+2+2) 903 1660-6, 53:53 [Distr. by E1] ****:
We don’t know exactly when Bach composed his three sonatas for viola da gamba; some say relatively early during his time at Cothen, while others maintain the maturity of the Leipzig years. Tough to tell by listening to the works themselves; they are quite difficult and stylistically Bach was known for “reverting” to previous types of pieces when the circumstances required it. No matter—these works, while tricky, are quite rewarding in their own way, though their secrets are not easily unearthed and require some attentive listening to genuinely gain access.
Though modern cellists are the people that usually tackle these works—the viola da gamba’s closest relative perhaps—violists have not been shy either. There can be no suggestion of period instrument dogma in these readings at all; these are full-blooded, hardbody readings that make the most of the modern instruments’ capacity. The addition of three arranged pieces from the cantatas make for fine filler, though I do wish more music had been given to us.
Hariolf Schlichtig is a bold player with a rich vibrant sound, and he is not hesitant to dig into the strings with a lot of heft and pull when the spirit strikes him. Pianist Yumi Sekiya likewise is not shy in projecting the fullest and warmest of piano tones to match the overt and outgoing postulations of Mr. Schlichtig. MD&G has done a good job here of bagging the duo in lovely, warm, and resonant surround sound. Nicely done.
A lesser known jazz pioneer gets a re-mastered vinyl upgrade.