“Uncharted: A Viola da Gamba Adventure” – viola da gamba & other early and world music instruments – MSR Classics

by | Jun 20, 2015 | Classical CD Reviews

“Uncharted: A Viola da Gamba Adventure” – Gerald Trimble, viola da gamba/ Webster Williams, 6-string bass viola da gamba/ Eliot Wadopian, doublebass/ River Guerguerian, Middle Eastern frame drums, doumbeks and riq tambourines; African djembes and rattles; Brazilian pandeiro drum and caxixi shakers; Peruvian cajon; Indian kanjira drum; Persian daf drum; Latin American congas, bongos and auxiliary percussion; Chinese gongs; Turkish cymbals – MSR Classics MS 1523, 64:49 (11/3/14) [Distr. by Albany] ***:

Gerald Trimble is certainly a fine player—every bar of every piece on this record testifies to a talent of broad proportions and a keen intellect seeking to explore the nooks and crannies of traditions common to his chosen instrument’s origins, and those alien to it. His studies have taken him through the usual viola da gamba pathway to historical enlightenment as well as other sorts of idioms representing jazz, eastern music, and contemporary ideas. Technically he is superb, and this recording captures all the nuances of the ensemble used.

However I dare say this will be an acquired taste, one I have yet to acclimate. It falls into the now rather well-established tradition of mixed genres and infusion of modern ideas into ancient forms, thereby updating, creating, or making more relevant favorite idioms of the past in fresh guise. Jan Garbarek playing tenor saxophone over Gregorian chant is a cousin of this type of performance, and for some the mixing of distinct and varied historical genres is a virtue to be admired, while others see it as contrived and false.

For me it doesn’t work, and I have made no bones about it. Hearing jazz-style licks in the midst of an English round devolves the result into something lesser than the sum of its parts and in the end gives me a type of musical frustration that balks not just at the hybrid lack of cohesiveness of the music, but of the chipping away of the felicities of the original styles.  Others, and you know who you are, like this kind of thing, and you won’t find any performance issues that turn you away from this disc.


Argiers; Parson’s Farewell; Greensleeves to a Ground; Dokumaci Kizlar Yalelli; The Lunatic Lover or The Young Man’s Call to the Grim King of the Ghosts for a Cure; The Duke of Norfolk or St. Paul’s Steeple; Antalyanin Mor Üzümü; Sylvie; The Black Nag; MacKenzie’s Farewell; Crockery Ware | John Come Kiss Me Now; The Moor’s Revenge: Part 1 – Laylat Al-Qadr | Part 2 – Jig from Abdelazar; Hijaz Taksim; La Chercheuse d’Esprit | Danse de l’Ours

—Steven Ritter

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