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Lucile Boulanger|Bach & Abel: Solo

Bach & Abel: Solo

Lucile Boulanger

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Familiar music heard through an unfamiliar prism. It was par for the course in the Baroque era, when transcription and pasticcio (patching together multifarious pieces by different composers to create a new work) were part of every musician and composer’s everyday musical toolkit. These days, though, not so much, meaning that when an artist does get as creative with 18th century repertoire as gambist Lucile Boulanger has been on this first solo recording of hers for Alpha, it’s all the more of a pleasure.

Those who know their viola da gamba repertoire will be unsurprised at the presence of pre-classical-era composer Carl Friedrich Abel on this solo programme, given his renown both in his day and now as one of the gamba greats. To pair him with J. S. Bach, though, is entirely unexpected, because while the king of Baroque did write three accompanied gamba sonatas, he never explored the instrument’s solo capabilities. Yet the two men were in fact linked both musically and personally. First, because Bach was Abel’s godfather, and probably also one of his musical instructors. Second, because of Abel’s friendship with Bach’s son Johann Christian, the tangible legacy of which was the Bach-Abel subscription concert series they founded together in 1760s London after Johann Christian followed Abel across the channel.

Boulanger’s aim therefore has been to make the link in a solo viola da gamba programme that existed between the two men in real life, juxtaposing original works for it from Abel’s famous Drexel manuscript, with her own new transcriptions of Bach works, presented as “pasticcio suites” reminiscent of the suites, sonatas and partitas Bach wrote for solo cello and violin. Cleverly, to give herself a head start as to how Bach himself may have gone about this transcription process, she’s selected pieces he worked his own transcriptions from – works such as the famous Prelude in C major BWV 846/846a, and the A minor Grave for keyboard or violin BWV 964/1003. Equally cleverly, she’s also looked closer to home by way of three dances from Bach’s final (6th) Solo Cello Suite in D major – because not only is D major a highly typical key for viola da gamba, but this particular suite was originally not for the standard four-stringed cello but instead a five-stringed one, bringing it closer to the viola da gamba with its five to seven strings.

The whole works wonderfully well. On the linguistic front, while Abel may have been a generation onwards of Bach, and with a trailblazing outlook that saw his symphonies influence Mozart, he adopted a more retro language for the viola da gamba. So, when Bach was an enthusiastic follower and imitator of the latest styles right up to his 1750 death, their respective works are effortlessly mutually complimentary here. Ultimately though, the joy of this album is Boulanger’s playing: the elegant legato flow and melancholically improvisatory feel to Abel’s Adagio in D minor, WK 209; the delicacy with which she articulates Bach’s aforementioned C major Prelude, and the array of shapes, light and shade she’s brought to its “arpeggio” figures; her rivetingly developed musical argument in Abel’s Vivace in D major, WK 190, fingers dancing with feather-like grace over its fast-figurations and embellishments, and double-stopped passages executed to perfection.

This is one that’ll have you spotting fresh things to appreciate on each repeated listen. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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Bach & Abel: Solo

Lucile Boulanger

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Prelude and Fugue in C Major, BWV 846 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

1
Prelude (Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:01:45

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Cello Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

2
Allemande (Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:08:38

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Cello Suite No. 3 in C major, BWV 1009 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

3
Courante (Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:04:00

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Cello Suite No. 6 in D major, BWV 1012 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

4
Sarabande (Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:05:23

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

5
Gavottes (Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:04:05

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Gigue (After Abel's Allegro in A Major, WK 212 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

6
(Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:02:09

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Adagio in D Minor, WK 209 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

7
Adagio in D Minor, WK 209
00:04:19

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Andante in D Minor, WK 206 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

8
Andante in D Minor, WK 206
00:02:06

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Allegro in D Minor, WK 207 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

9
Allegro in D Minor, WK 207
00:05:26

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Prelude in C Minor for Lute, BWV 999 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

10
(Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:01:49

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Bourée Angloise for the Flute, BWV 1013 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

11
(Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:03:13

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

DISC 2

Arpeggio in D Minor, WK 205 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

1
Arpeggio in D Minor, WK 205
00:02:34

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Moderato in D Minor, WK 208 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

2
Moderato in D Minor, WK 208
00:05:47

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Allegro in D Major, WK 186 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

3
Allegro in D Major, WK 186
00:03:28

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Fugue in D Major, WK 196 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

4
Fugue in D Major, WK 196
00:02:32

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Adagio in D Major, WK 187 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

5
Adagio in D Major, WK 187
00:03:58

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Minuet in D Major, WK 200 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

6
Minuet in D Major, WK 200
00:03:02

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Vivace in D Major, WK 190 (Carl Friedrich Abel)

7
Vivace in D Major, WK 190
00:03:59

Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Carl Friedrich Abel, Composer - Lucile Boulanger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Grave for the Keyboard or Violin, BWV 964/1003 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

8
Grave for the Keyboard or Violin, BWV 964/1003 (Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:05:22

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Fuga for the Lute or Violin, BWV 1000/1001 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

9
(Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:06:41

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Siciliana for the Violin, BWV 1001 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

10
(Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:03:27

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Allegro for the Violin, BWV 1003 (Johann Sebastian Bach)

11
(Transcription for Bass Viol by Lucile Boulanger)
00:06:52

Johann Sebastian Bach, Composer - Copyright Control, MusicPublisher - Lucile Boulanger, Arranger, MainArtist

2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2021 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France

Album Description

Familiar music heard through an unfamiliar prism. It was par for the course in the Baroque era, when transcription and pasticcio (patching together multifarious pieces by different composers to create a new work) were part of every musician and composer’s everyday musical toolkit. These days, though, not so much, meaning that when an artist does get as creative with 18th century repertoire as gambist Lucile Boulanger has been on this first solo recording of hers for Alpha, it’s all the more of a pleasure.

Those who know their viola da gamba repertoire will be unsurprised at the presence of pre-classical-era composer Carl Friedrich Abel on this solo programme, given his renown both in his day and now as one of the gamba greats. To pair him with J. S. Bach, though, is entirely unexpected, because while the king of Baroque did write three accompanied gamba sonatas, he never explored the instrument’s solo capabilities. Yet the two men were in fact linked both musically and personally. First, because Bach was Abel’s godfather, and probably also one of his musical instructors. Second, because of Abel’s friendship with Bach’s son Johann Christian, the tangible legacy of which was the Bach-Abel subscription concert series they founded together in 1760s London after Johann Christian followed Abel across the channel.

Boulanger’s aim therefore has been to make the link in a solo viola da gamba programme that existed between the two men in real life, juxtaposing original works for it from Abel’s famous Drexel manuscript, with her own new transcriptions of Bach works, presented as “pasticcio suites” reminiscent of the suites, sonatas and partitas Bach wrote for solo cello and violin. Cleverly, to give herself a head start as to how Bach himself may have gone about this transcription process, she’s selected pieces he worked his own transcriptions from – works such as the famous Prelude in C major BWV 846/846a, and the A minor Grave for keyboard or violin BWV 964/1003. Equally cleverly, she’s also looked closer to home by way of three dances from Bach’s final (6th) Solo Cello Suite in D major – because not only is D major a highly typical key for viola da gamba, but this particular suite was originally not for the standard four-stringed cello but instead a five-stringed one, bringing it closer to the viola da gamba with its five to seven strings.

The whole works wonderfully well. On the linguistic front, while Abel may have been a generation onwards of Bach, and with a trailblazing outlook that saw his symphonies influence Mozart, he adopted a more retro language for the viola da gamba. So, when Bach was an enthusiastic follower and imitator of the latest styles right up to his 1750 death, their respective works are effortlessly mutually complimentary here. Ultimately though, the joy of this album is Boulanger’s playing: the elegant legato flow and melancholically improvisatory feel to Abel’s Adagio in D minor, WK 209; the delicacy with which she articulates Bach’s aforementioned C major Prelude, and the array of shapes, light and shade she’s brought to its “arpeggio” figures; her rivetingly developed musical argument in Abel’s Vivace in D major, WK 190, fingers dancing with feather-like grace over its fast-figurations and embellishments, and double-stopped passages executed to perfection.

This is one that’ll have you spotting fresh things to appreciate on each repeated listen. © Charlotte Gardner/Qobuz

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