Rich and Gorgeous Tones

The Whole Note - March 1, 2015

 By Larry Beckwith

Bach – Krebs – Abel
Helen Callus; Luc Beauséjour
Analekta AN 2 9879

Though Bach’s longest and most major career posting, in Leipzig, kept him more than busy writing and preparing music for the church, he managed to find time to continue composing extraordinary
chamber music as the director of the town’s Collegium Musicum. This ensemble of students and young professionals would give weekly performances at Zimmerman’s coffee house. It is thought that Bach wrote the three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord (BWV1027-1029) for performances by members of this Schola Cantorum. They are a combination of new compositions and arrangements of existing music written for other forces.

These three extraordinary pieces form the centrepiece of this fine recording by violist Helen Callus and harpsichordist Luc Beauséjour. Also included are a gamba sonata by Carl Friedrich Abel and Callus’ arrangement of a movement from a trio by Johann Ludwig Krebbs. Both Krebbs and Abel had close family connections to Bach.

From the opening plaintive notes of this beautiful recording, violist Callus’ rich and gorgeous tone announces that these will be performances of a high standard. Though they share a range, there are major differences in timbre and intensity of sound between the viola and the gamba which take getting used to, but the clarity and sensitivity of Callus’ playing is so compelling that one is drawn past the instrument directly to the music. As always, Luc Beauséjour’s playing is elegant and stylish. Highly recommended.