Bach sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord
Jonathan Manson & Trevor Pinnock Avie AV 2093

BBC Music Magazine

Benchmark recording

“The partnership of Jonathan Manson and Trevor Pinnock is a hugely rewarding one. Both are spirited players with strong characters but who, yet, are susceptible to the sublime poetry of the Sonata’s centrally placed Adagio. There is much rewarding dialogue in these performances where neither player steals the limelight from the other. The conversational interplay between the instruments is animated and engaging and the rapport between the artists hardly can be placed in doubt. In short, I find greater athleticism and a greater sense of playful spontaneity here than in rival versions either by Jordi Savall and Ton Koopman for instance (Alia Vox) or Jaap Ter Linden and Richard Egarr (Harmonia Mundi)… A splendid issue.”

Classic FM Magazine

“The balance is excellent, the right hand of the harpsichord clearly audible as an equal participant. The vigour of the first movement gives way to the long lines, immaculately phrased, of the Adagio. The playing in the two four-movement sonatas is equally joyous, and there is a bonus of a transcription of the B minor flute sonata, BWV 1030. Superb.”

Gramophone Magazine

“Manson is freely expressive… the fast movements, though measured, have energy, strength and momentum.”

International Record Review

“Manson tackles Bach’s masterpieces with tremendous verve and skill… On this disc [Pinnock] is on sparkling form and plays with both affection and panache… My fellow collectors of Bach gamba sonata recordings will find this a disc they will want to return to often. Highly recommended.”

Goldberg Magazine

“The efect that this recording has on the listener can only be compared with that of a book that cannot be put down until it is read from cover to cover. Jonathan Manson and Trevor Pinnock present us with performances of J.S. Bach’s sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord characterised by such vibrancy and expressiveness that each moment arrives as a breath of fresh air. The key to such effective performances is not only a deep understanding of the music by the performers, but also their extreme musical sensitivity to each other… The performance is filled with energy and a sense of momentum, while still allowing for the full blossoming of the expansive melodic gestures that characterise the movement. The coordination of phrasing, articulation, and ornamentation between the gamba and the harpsichord is truly remarkable… The slow movements throughout the disc display an equal beauty and sensitivity of phrasing. This masterful recording is highly recommended as an addition to any music lover’s library.”

The Metro

“Sometimes you listen to a disc and it’s immediately apparent that the musicians were having a ball. Everything connects — the quality of the playing, the joie de vivre of the performers, the warmth of the acoustic — and it all adds up to something that hums with the mystery of the captured moment… [This] is one of those discs. Jonathan Manson is a wonderful gamba player, with an easy way with a melody. Harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock winds and twines the keyboard part around the string line with grace and sympathy and the result is a performance of luminous beauty.”

“Both Jonathan Manson and the redoubtable Trevor Pinnock seem almost to pluck sounds out of nowhere and allow them to settle in space; the subtlety of their phrasing seems to know no limits… their sense of cohesion between the parts is also made evident by the interplay between their instruments. This is immediately evident in the concerto-like BWV1029, which opens the disc, and continues to reveal itself throughout, both in the slow movements (the short opening Adagio of BWV1028 is particularly beautiful) and the more dramatic (like the final Presto that provides a fitting close both to BWV1030b and the disc itself). A world of suggestion more than literalism, perhaps, but one where precision is absolute.”

Early Music Review

“It’s superbly played. Jonathan Manson has a formidable technique. The approach from both players is enormously energetic… and very exciting, particularly in the fast movements. This is an excellent addition to the repertoire, and beautifully played here. The understanding between the two players is so good, and their shaping so clear, that this recording will bring great pleasure however many other versions you may have in your collection.”

“Manson’s sweet, muscular tone and confident, singerly phrasing is the first thing noticed in this recording. Only later does it become clear how painstakingly Pinnock and Manson have prepared the music, and how evenly balanced their roles are in what is a series of intimate dialogues. The rhythmic flexibility in thoughtful performance is outstanding, making it a worthy successor to Jordi Savall and Ton Koopman’s delicious 2000 recording for Alia Vox.”

Early Music

“Jonathan Manson and Trevor Pinnock’s new recording of Bach: Sonatas for viola da gamba (Avie AV 2093, rec 2005, 59′) is a thoroughly welcome addition to the canon. In the opening G minor sonata (there is no conclusive evidence as to the order of composition of the three viol sonatas; only one exists in Bach’s hand) I was immediately struck by the rightness of tempo and excellent balance and clarity of material in the performance. An extremely attractive feature is the way in which the music is simply left to speak for itself. The new element on this CD is an arrangement of the magnificent B minor flute sonata (BWV1030) for the viol, in G minor. In fact the flute work is derived from an earlier composition in G minor of which only the harpsichord part survives; in the past oboists and violinists have claimed this piece but it works brilliantly on the viol and the performance on this disc is most beautiful and utterly convincing.”