Text, music audio, and personal photographs: Catharina Meints Caldwell
Photographs of the instruments: Roger Mastroianni
Notes on the instruments: John Pringle
Notes on the makers: Thomas G. MacCracken
Recordings of the instruments: Paul Eachus. Ensemble recordings used by kind permission of Boston Records, Gasparo, and Vox.
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I have tried to put together a program that uses each viola da gamba to play music written very close to the time and place of its creation. In the process I have become even more aware of the “rightness” of each instrument. I am sometimes asked which is my favorite viol. That has always been an impossible question for me, and this recording is further proof that I cannot answer it. Each instrument brings a special quality to its music that cannot be easily explained. The word "authentic" has been used and abused, but in this case it is a sense of having the sound, articulation, and resonance that match the music and changing styles of composition. I divided the viols by national origin as I did in the catalogue (although grouping the smaller instruments together). As I finished making my choices of music I realized I had formed an actual, if very short, history of the viol literature. I chose solo music as much as possible, and even with the music that has basso continuo, I chose works in which the bass line is quite apparent.
I have included a scale in two speeds and a series of chords on each viol to allow even closer comparisons among them. All viols were recorded at the same distance from the microphone in four sessions over a six-week period in 2008. I decided to use one bow for all the scales to equalize the approach as much as possible. It is a Lothar Seifert pernambuco bow from the 1970s that is tonally in the middle of the sound spectrum of the bows I usually play. I used several different bows for the music: the English basses are played with the Seifert bow, the Germans and French are with a Penzal copy (also pernambuco) of the so-called Tielke bow in Hamburg. On the trebles I used a Sprenger bow and on the pardessus I used a bow by Philip Davis.
I use gut strings from Boston Catlins on the top three strings, either an open gut or an aluminum wound fourth string, and Pirastro solid silver (not silver-plated) wound gut on the bass strings.
In addition to these newly-recorded demonstrations of the viols, I have used archival recordings to illustrate our usage of the Collection over the years. My thanks to Gasparo Records, Boston Records, and the Viola da Gamba Society of America for permission to reuse these tracks.
The author and publisher wish to express their gratitude to the following, and to 72 other contributors, for financial support through a campaign at kickstarter.com to fund publication of this app and the associated print edition.
Richard and Penelope Crawford
Lynne Ramsey and Jeffrey Irvine
Beverly Simmons and Ross W. Duffin
David E. Hanson
Paul L. Hart
J. Reilly Lewis
John Moran and Risa Browder
Belinda Novik and Barry Katz
Kathleen Moretto Spencer
Lynn Tetenbaum and Steven Johnson
Susan and David Egloff
Karen and Peter Flint
Alice Robbins and Walter B. Denny
Stephen J. Ross
Paul Lindley Furnas
Mark L. Kausch and Patricia G. Johnson
Ida and Glenn Mercer
David and Sigrid Boe
Jonathan B. Caldwell
Thomas R. Conley
Frederick K. Gable
Nicholas R. and Sue Copeland Jones
Amy Mendillo and Ethan Pollock
Kate Pilacky and David DiTullio
Johanna Maria Rose
Mr. and Mrs. William Steck
Daniel Stepner and Laura Jeppesen
Sarah Weiner and Ian Shuman
Elizabeth Anne Weinfield
Colin J. Brown
Phillip W. Serna