G C Dall’Abaco: Cello Sonatas

Elinor Frey with Mauro Valli cello, Federica Bianchi harpsichord, Giangiacomo Pinardi archlute
passacaille PAS 1069

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Although Giuseppe Clemente Dall’Abaco’s sonatas for unaccompanied cello have enjoyed something of a revival in cello circles, these charming and inventive sonatas with continuo are still not widely appreciated. These beautifully poised performances by Elinor Frey and her continuo team should certainly rectify that. The opening D-minor Sonata has movements in imitation of the gamba and archlute which are simply beguiling, while later we are treated to an evocation of the Italian rustic bagpipe, the Zampogna. Dall’Abaco’s varied career saw him briefly visit the crowded musical setting of early 18th-century London, before retreating to Verona to pursue a career in performance and composition. The wider dissemination of Dall’Abaco’s music for cello has been complicated by the publication by Martin Berteau, the father of the French cello school, of some of his music in versions decorated by Berteau for his own performances, which has led to confusion regarding their authorship. Work by Ulrich Iser has served to clarify the situation, as well as differentiating the work of Dall’Abaco and his father, and the works recorded here are all in their original versions by Dall’Abaco ‘junior’ and labelled with Iser’s catalogue numbers ABV 18, 19, 30, 32 and 35. The playing here is beautifully detailed and effortlessly virtuosic, while the occasional use of a second cello and an archlute in the continuo line-up provides some enjoyably rich textures.

D. James Ross

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