J.S.Bach and consort viols

July 31, 2009

When I first came to viols in 1986,  there was little talk of Bach in the viol consort area: Jenkins, Lawes and Purcell, yes, but Bach, no. From the Viol Conclave at Los Angeles in the early 1990s, I brought back a transcription of the three-part inventions for two trebles and bass.

I guess with increasing competency among amateurs over the years, publishers and professional players have looked more closely at Bach and transcriptions have popped up.

So I thought I’d start off this thread, with the intention of adding to it slowly as I become more and more aware of what’s happening.

Art of Fugue, BWV 1080.

The Walter Icking Archive has the work in a variety of settings, probably the most accessible of which for our purposes is the transcription for two violins, viola and cello.

Contrapunctus 1. The Yukimi Kambe Viol Consort recorded this on the “Buffet delle quattro Viole da Gamba” CD  (YKVC 0201) in 2001. 2’56” Contrapunctus 9. Hesperion XX/Jordi Savall, 3″04, recorded on “Vingt ans Hesperion XX”, Auvidis, 1994. Savall throws in some wonderful-sounding brass instruments to play the themes in contrast to the swirls and eddies of string passages. In the Walter Icking Music Archive, see this written out for two violins and two cellos (Les Editions Outremontaises, 2006).

BWV 1021. Sonata in G for violin and basso continuo. On the Walter Icking Music Archive, note the transcription by Joseba Berrocal for gamba and bass gamba.

Trio for two violins and bass gamba continuo. This, at first glance anyway, looks accessible to two treble viols and bass. Walter Icking again, being an anonymous reconstruction, edited by Gunther Morche.

BWV 1093 (Yale MS). Herzliebster Jesu. Walter Icking, set for viols (trTTB). 

BWV 1010. Cello suite no.4. Transcription to G Major and arranged for 5-string piccolo cello or bass gamba.


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