Early Music, Anyone?

Baroque cello

To quote Roger North from the time of the English Civil War, when musicians, facing Puritan disapproval of music in the church and theatre, “chose to fidle at home, than to goe out and be knockt on the head abroad” …

Follow-up to Orin’s post a few days ago asking about our readers’ music rotations …  like reader AT Gavin, I am also highly partial to early bowed music.  I listen to a lot of early viol music and music from the early Baroque.  As I’ve mentioned here, I’m a very bad amateur cellist with a particular love for Baroque.  Anyway, I wanted to thank reader AT Gavin for the recommendation of John Mark Rozendaal’s Breaking the Ground – division music for viol, and a very lovely album.  I myself have been listening intensively to the first couple of volumes of Sainte-Colombe, Concerts a deux violes esgales.  

Although my heart is in the baroque cello, if I’m honest with myself, I don’t think most of the early cello music is very good, not compared to the violin music of the period or the viols.  I love the music of Domenico Gabrielli for the baroque cello, and play much of it (badly) – and it is perhaps the earliest music indisputably for the “cello.”  But, for example, I can’t quite figure out how Caldara’s trio sonatas for violin are so lovely and his cello sonatas so … not.   When it comes to picking things to play, increasingly I find myself gravitating toward transcriptions of baroque violin for cello, not the original cello.  The Corelli violin sonatas – which, I’ve been told, have never been out of print since they were published in 1700 or so – I play them in transcription, and am very fond of a gamba edition that dates back almost to when they were first published, discovered in a Paris archive.

And, to really announce heresy, I have come to prefer the Bach cello suites on … viol da gamba, not cello.  Finally, although I am often skeptical of attempts to come up with “new” Baroque music, I have liked this new work from Rolf Lislevand on Baroque guitar and associated instruments.

Do we have other readers also interested in early music?  What do you listen to?