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Gottfried Finger: The Complete Music For Viola Da Gamba Solo

Finger / Ensemble Tourbillon / Wagner
Release Date: 11/27/2012 
Label:  Accent   Catalog #: 24267   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
Number of Discs: 1 
Length: 1 Hours 14 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



G. FINGER Complete Works for Viola da Gamba Solo Petr Wagner (vdg); Ens Tourbillon ACCENT 24267 (74:15)


Back in 36:4 I had the pleasure of reviewing a disc of the surviving suite for viola da gamba by the little-known virtuoso player Conrad Höffler (1647–1705). As one can never have too much of a truly good thing, I now have in hand an equally delightful release of comparable music by Höffler’s successor in the next generation, Gottfried Finger (c.1660–1730). While hardly a household name Read more in classical music circles today, he is nowhere near as obscure as Höffler and at his height enjoyed a not inconsiderable degree of fame. As Christopher Brodersen provided an excellent concise overview of Finger’s career in his recent review in 35:5 of the composer’s op. 1 sonatas (also released by Accent), I will happily refer readers there for biographical details and instead proceed directly to a discussion of this disc.


Despite Finger’s early prowess as a viola da gambist (he appears to have completely abandoned playing it by the time he left England in 1701), all of his works for that instrument remain unpublished; a few survive in autograph manuscripts, the remainder in copies made by various pupils of his in England. However, virtually all of them are believed to predate his arrival in that country in 1687, though a couple of works may stem from the early 1690s. One item, a Sonata in D Minor, is an arrangement of a work by Ignazio Albertini (1644–1685). The pieces range in difficulty from relatively simple ones intended for students and skilled amateurs to the demanding virtuosity of the Aria et variationes that opens the disc.


In commenting on Finger’s op. 1 sonatas, Brodersen wrote: “It’s hard to pin down the music; in addition to the Austrian qualities that Finger shares with Biber and Schmelzer, there is so much that it isn’t. There’s nary a hint of the outré that characterizes contemporary French music, nor is there any of the nervous intensity of the Italians. Finger’s music combines Austrian Gemütlichkeit and English sophistication with a touch of German intellectualism.” I would largely second that comment, save that, here at least, the Italian element is also readily apparent in both the structure and thematic content of the sonatas (see, for example, track 1, which sounds remarkably like the notorious Pachelbel Canon, and track 7, the Sonata Sesta in A Minor). Finger’s voice is a distinctive and appealing one throughout, and one can only be grateful that his music is finally receiving long overdue appreciation.


In addition to the disc reviewed and commended by Brodersen, there are currently two other releases devoted to Finger’s music in print: a 2006 Cornetto CD of recorder sonatas and a 2007 Pan CD of works for two bass viola da gambas. Neither has been reviewed in these pages; both offer music well worth hearing, though the recorder player on the Cornetto disc is decidedly substandard. Fortunately, no such caveat applies to the performances here by viola da gambist Petr Wagner, a simply marvelous exponent of his instrument who makes it declaim, sing, and dance with breathtaking eloquence and panache. The Ensemble Tourbillon—comprising Hana Fleková on supporting viola da gamba; Marcin Swiakiewicz on harpsichord and organ; Jan Cizmar on theorbo, baroque guitar, and baroque lute; and Premysl Vacek on chitarrone and archlute—provides supporting accompaniment as skilled as it is varied. The recorded sound is pleasingly full and spacious; the digipak’s booklet provides intelligent notes and numerous photographs of the performers. Accent has followed up its initial Finger disc with another winner, and let’s hope there’s still more to come; strongly recommended.


FANFARE: James A. Altena
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Works on This Recording

1.
Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Basso Continuo no 2 in D major by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
Period: Baroque 
2.
Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Basso Continuo no 3 in A major by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
3.
Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Basso Continuo no 4 in D minor by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
4.
Aria and Variations in D major by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
5.
Sonatina in A major by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
6.
Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Basso Continuo no 5 in A major by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
7.
Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Basso Continuo no 6 in A minor by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
8.
Balletti scordati in A Major by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
9.
Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Basso Continuo no 1 in D major by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
10.
Prelude in E Minor by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
11.
Sonata in D minor by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon
12.
Divisions in G minor by Gottfried Finger
Performer:  Petr Wagner (Bass Viola Da Gamba)
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Ensemble Tourbillon

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