Early music sensation Tina Chancey releases second in Versatile Viol series:
Violin Sonatas by Jean-Marie Leclair
Played on the rarely-heard Pardessus de Viole
Following hot on the heels of her critically-acclaimed 2009 release The Versatile Viol: Tina Chancey Plays Scottish and Irish Music, Ms. Chancey turns to another corner of viol repertoire with a new recording of French baroque music, Versatile Viol II: Tina Chancey Plays Leclair Violin Sonatas on the Pardessus de Viole.
Adding a new twist to these engaging baroque sonatas, Chancey performs them not on a violin, but on a “pardessus de viole”, a cross between a viola da gamba and a baroque violin. Chancey is one of only a dozen or so people in the world who play the pardessus, but it was all the rage with aristocratic women amateur musicians in the 1730’s. During a particularly active period of musical invention, this 5-stringed instrument was created because custom forbade 18th century French women from placing anything on their bare shoulders. How could they play the violin sonatas of Corelli that were taking France by storm? The pardessus, held demurely on one’s lap, was the answer. Though it was invented for purely practical reasons, the pardessus’s earthy sound, so reminiscent of the human voice, captivated the 18th century listener’s imagination, just as it captivated Chancey’s almost thirty years ago when she first started to play it.
As the pardessus is a hybrid instrument, Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764) was something of a hybrid composer. Writing just as the tide was turning from baroque to classical, from Bach to Mozart, Leclair was obsessed with the idea of creating an international musical style. His inspired blend of delicate French ornaments, Italian bravura runs and leaps, and dramatic German Sturm und Drang (storm and stress) harmonies resulted in incandescent violin sonatas that rival Corelli’s in their blend of mystery and joie de vivre.
Multi-talented musician Tina Chancey was recently recognized by Early Music America with a Lifetime Achievement Award. She has spent a lifetime exploring the myriad possibilities of the viola da gamba; a six-stringed bowed “guitar with an attitude” as a soloist, in a rock band, and with her ensemble HESPERUS, which she founded in 1979. In her decades-long love affair and fascination with the viol, she has found it the perfect vehicle for virtually every genre of music from Appalachian folk tunes to Sephardic melodies to Renaissance dances and baroque sonatas.
You can purchase The Versatile Viol I and II on www.hesperus.org, CD Baby and Amazon.com. Watch for Versatile Viol III: American Folk Music, to be released in Fall 2010. More information about Tina Chancey and The Versatile Viol series is at www.tinachancey.net. We invite you to become a fan of Versatile Viol on Facebook.