Défense de la basse de viole


This is a slightly amusing and revealing extract from a random blog I happened to stumble by during a Google search:

On Wednesday I caught a performance by Shaun Ng (viola da gamba), Jeong Ae-Ree (soprano) and Shane Thio (harpsichord). An entirely early programme:

Monteclair Le Triomfe de la Constance (sop, viola da gamba and continuo)
Simpson Ground in E minor (viola da gamba & basso continuo)
Telemann Sonata in D (Viola da gamba solo)
Rameau L'impatience (Sop & basso continuo)

A thoroughly enjoyable performance. Shane seems to be able to play anything and everything. Besides playing a harpsichord and not a piano, he was improvising all the way based on figured basses and the like. What a genius. Ae-Ree had a very pure tone which was very suited to this music and her singing was coloured and dramatic, reflecting the secular nature of the subjects. Shaun's viola da gamba was something I've only heard live one other time, at a concert by Les Arts Florissants performing Handel's Messiah. He plays well enough, and is very defensive of his instrument, as demonstrated in the post-concert interview with the artistes. What an evening! I had been transported to another place and time entirely.


Being described as being "very defensive" of my instrument hardly seems praise to any musician, but then again, I am not just any musician with such an uncommon instrument. During the interview, I was asked some rather factually inaccurate questions - mostly relating the viol to cello, which in reality has no truth or basis. Looks like this attempt to leave the audience a little more historically informed has backfired! (Despite playing in every piece, I get no credit!) :)