Maddalena del Gobbo
Henriette. Princess of the Viol
with Christoph Prendl, viola da gamba
Michele Carrera, theorbo
Ewald Donhoffer, harspichord
Deutsche Grammophon, 2016
I do not expect that everyone of you will appreciate this recording, but it is a very good and rare occasion to listen to old and now-obsolete instruments, to the point that the harpsichord seems rather ordinary in comparison to viol and theorbo. Henriette. Princess of the Viol (this is the title) is an album devoted to French music written for viola da gamba, with a particular reference to an illustrious personage. Henriette is actually Princess Anne Henriette of France, daughter of King Louis XV, passionate about music and virtuosa of viola da gamba, as recalled by Nattier’s portrait. She unfortunately died of smallpox at the age of twenty-four.
The compositions proposed here were written by people linked with the Court of Versailles. There are for example La Du Vaucel and Le Morangis ou la Plissay, composed by Princess Henriette’s teacher, player of the viol and composer, Jean-Baptiste Forqueray, alongside with many composition by Marin Marais and Louis de Caix d’Hervelois. Marais was a pupil of Lully and ordinaire de la chambre du Roi pour la viole from 1679 to 1725 (the years of his death) and was the composer of five books of Pièces de viole, of which here are proposed two Suites from two of them and the Arabesque. Finally, there are four compositions by Louis de Caix d’Hervelois, who composed exclusively music for the viol and who studied with the previous Marais.
Maddalena del Gobbo studied cello for many years before she decided to devote herself chiefly to the viol, obviously enchanted by the lovely sound of this instrument. She plays here with three accompanists (Christoph Prendl, viola da gamba; Michele Carrera, theorbo; Ewald Donhoffer, harpsichord) and realizes the sophisticated album heralded by the title thanks to the warm sound of her instrument, which she played with abandonment and refinement. I cannot fail to notice the romantic and melancholic execution of the Suite en La mineur by Marais or the composed joy of the Suite en Sol majeur or of La Morangis by Forqueray. All the compositions express nice and aristocratic feelings and it will be easy for you to imagine the sumptuous Court of Versailles behind Del Gobbo’s music.
The recording sound is excellent and made Henriette even more enjoyable.