Viola da Gamba – Bass duets: Martha Bishop, Lullaby for Twins

April 17, 2009

Martha Bishop, Eight canonic duets for bass viols. PRB Productions, Contemporary consort ser.no.15, 1991.

The easiest in the collection technically. For anyone baulking at modern music for viols, it’s in an accessible key, straightforward rhythms and a tempo marking of “Slowly, gently”. We’re aiming for smoothness of sound, especially in the long notes, and the extensive use of slurred quavers – so necessary to the lullaby feel – forces one out of half-position into fingerboard work along French baroque lines. There are no double-stops and no dramatic string crossings – those come in the later pieces.

The 28 bars lead naturally to the second piece, Come Dance with Me and the Gmin key is repeated in this one, plus Togetherness.

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