“Duo” – Baroque German Music for Lute and Viola da Gamba – Harmonia mundi

by | Dec 2, 2005 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

“Duo” –  Baroque German Music for Lute and Viola da Gamba
– Luca Pianca, lute/Vittorio Ghielmi, viola da gamba – Harmonia Mundi
HMI 987063 (50 mins.) ****:

This consoling album of music for lute and viola da gamba, both
together and separately, performed by lutenist Luca Pianca on a Michel
Colichon instrument of 1688, and gambist Vittorio Ghielmi on a Luc
Breton gamba made in 1999, is a beautiful example of how the simplest
of recordings can be, with the right system and under the right
circumstances, a genuine audiophile stunner.

The two musicians gave the recording engineer plenty to work with.
Ghielmi, who together with Pianca has made a series of excellent
recordings for Winter & Winter (including Bagpipes from Hell) and
other specialist labels, has a lovely tawny tone, not as classically
pure as Jordí Savall but perhaps more seductive, and Pianca is a
wonderful partner with a gently reflective, occasionally dreamy

Among the many highlights of their recital, which ranges from the
relatively familiar (to gambists) Johann Schenck to the obscure (even
to gambists, I would wager) Andreas Lidl, is a hypnotically beautiful
five-minute ciaccona by Schenck for the two and a particularly joyous
short Allegro by Carl Friedrich Abel. Along the way, there are
unexpected transcriptions of arias from operas by Handel, Mozart (“In
diesen heil’gen Hallen,” from The Magic Flute, of all things, and for
gamba alone!) and Gluck (“Che faro’ senza Euridice,” from Orfeo ed

Good liner notes by Brenno Boccadaro and the usual exquisite Harmonia
Mundi recording, capturing every subtle nuance of the two instruments
with exceptional timbral accuracy an – within the delicate instruments’
limitations – considerable dynamic range, made at the Tibor Vargas
Foundation in Sion, Switzerland.

– Laurence Vittes