Saturday baroque, feat. the baryton

Following on last Saturday’s videos, here are some Haydn trios for the baryton, viola, and cello. The baryton is a bass viola da gamba with plucked strings concealed in the back of the neck. A skilled performer can bow the instrument in the usual way while also plucking the concealed strings with the left thumb.

We’re told that the baryton is also called viola di pardone because of a charming story that the inventor was a condemned prisoner who won a pardon for devising this unusual viol.

The modern revival of the baryton began with the instrument in the following video: a 1934 copy of a richly decorated eighteenth-century original. This baryton is now in the collection of the Orpheon Foundation, Vienna, Austria, and it has its own webpage. It’s one of the best looking instruments, of any kind, that I’ve ever seen. Continue reading “Saturday baroque, feat. the baryton”

Saturday baroque

I haven’t posted any music videos in a while, so here’s an entire baroque concert. It’s the baroque portion of a program presented by Jordi Savall (viola da gamba) and members of his ensemble Hespèrion XXI.

The stock tune “La follia” (also called “las folias,” “les folies d’Espagne,” etc.) is a theme of this concert. Countless musicians improvised on this simple Iberian melody, which evoked a mood of passionate longing. There’s an entire website devoted to this “most lasting and famous tune in western music.” This MIDI file plays the Follia theme by itself.

Antonio Martín y Coll: Diferencias sobre las folias
Jordi Savall performs variations on the Follia theme for viola da gamba. This Spanish piece dates from the early 1700s. Note the rhythmic back-and-forth between the viol and castanets in the last diferencia. Continue reading “Saturday baroque”

Saturday baroque: Les voix humaines

I’m feeling both melancholy and fond-of-my-fellow-mortals today. The perfect piece for the occasion is “Les voix humaines (Human voices)” by Marin Marais. So take four minutes and listen to this recording at Last.fm [no longer available]. It’s by a Montreal viola da gamba duo, also called Les Voix Humaines [website]. Or you might watch this […]