The Bohemian Viola damore
Elizabeth Watsons most recent CD, The Bohemian Viola Damore was recorded with harpsichordist Robert Aldwinckle.
|Stamitz||Sonata in D|
|Toeschi||Sonata in D|
|Benda||Sonata in A|
|Rust||Aria con variazione|
track 1 (Sonata in D, Stamitz, first movement)
track 11 (Aria con variazione, Rust)
Czech musicians sometimes took their talents and insights to Germany. The Stamitz family moved to Mannheim, where they composed and played and inspired other composers, including Toeschi, Kreutzer and Mozart. Benda went to Potsdam where he led the orchestra at the court of Frederick the Great and made music with C.P.E.Bach and Quantz and taught Rust. Their music has great charm and imagination and, with the Divertimento by Mozarts friend Hoffmeister fills this CD.
Sonata in D major, Carl Stamitz (17451801)
Sonata in D major, Giovanni Toeschi (17351796)
Sonata in A major, Frantisek Benda (17091786)
Aria con Variazione, Frederich Wilhelm Rust (17391796)
Divertimento, Franz Anton Hoffmeister (17541812)
A member of the viol family, the viola damore has usually a flat back, sloping shoulders, sound-holes in the shape of the flaming sword, an image associated with Islam, sometimes a rose carved in the front, and often a blind cupid crowning the peg-box. Early instruments in north Germany had no sympathetic strings, but there were varied shapes, numbers of strings and tunings. By the middle of the 18th century it was widely played in central Europe and usually had six or seven each of playing and sympathetic strings, often tuned in a chord of D major or minor. The sympathetic strings may have been inspired by oriental instruments or may have been added to enliven the sound of the viol. The name viola damore means viola of love, but can imply Moorish origins. The baryton is a similar, but larger and lower, instrument.
The music on this CD is by composers of Bohemian descent or tradition in the 18th century. The viola damore played here is Bohemian of the second quarter of the 18th century and has seven gut playing strings, the lower ones covered, and seven wire sympathetic strings. The baroque bow is by Roy Collins. The harpsichord, by John Horniblow, is modelled on an instrument of the period by Thomas Hitchcock in the Victoria and Albert Museum: English harpsichords were favoured in Germany. We play at pitch A=430, a pitch in use at the time: it gives freedom of sonority to the instruments. Our performing style is based on wide reading and awareness of the character of music-making at the time in central Europe.