lunedì 6 ottobre 2014

Viola d'amore player

Vivaldi viola d'amore concertos by Bruno Giuranna

Making a viola d'amore

Hindemith viola d'amore

               Gunter Teuffel Plays Hindemith's Viola d’amore

Stradivari viola d'amore

 Stradivari’s sons, viola d’amore

Stradivari viola d’amore altered in the 18th century into violin form. 
The pegbox altered and corners added.

Stradivari pegbox with center dividing wall (ex-Gibson viola d’amore) 

Viola d’amore, made in 1757 by John Marshall, England

Jane Rogers

“Initially I came to play the viola d’amore at the request of a colleague — and somewhat reluctantly I might add as it is a notoriously complicated instrument! My story begins twenty years ago: we were about to perform the John Passion with Florilegium and Trinity Baroque, and Julian Podger (who was directing the project) decided that he would like to have violas d’amore playing numbers 19 and 20 rather than muted violins (which Bach resorted to in his later revisions of the piece). Rachel Podger and I managed to borrow a couple of d’amores and taught ourselves how to play these strange and wonderful instruments in the space of about a week.
“The viola d’amore has a most distinctive sound. The sympathetic strings which lie underneath the strings which are bowed resonate wonderfully to create a bitter-sweet, haunting and almost unearthly sound. The way in which you tune the strings and the angle at which they sit on the bridge of the instrument allow for easy execution of chords further adding to the resonance of the instrument. The dimensions of the viola d’amore aren’t really standardised and so differ quite a lot between instruments. Some have a longer or wider neck or are deeper in the body making them more difficult or easier to play depending on your own physiology.
“Word then seemed to get around that I was suddenly some kind of authority on the instrument and people just kept asking me to play concertos and other pieces involving it. I often felt quite awkward about this because I didn’t own an instrument and couldn’t at that time really afford to buy one. Luckily Roy Goodman said I could always borrow his as he rarely used it, and for the few concerts per year that it was needed this arrangement worked well.
“Two years ago I was asked by the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra to play the d’amore in their St John Passion tour (13 concerts in a row!). Roy’s d’amore wasn’t available so I replied to the orchestra agreeing to play on the condition that they found me an instrument in Holland. I secretly hoped they wouldn’t be able to find anything and would have to opt for the muted violin version, as touring the John Passion can be logistically a bit of a pain for the d’amore player, because you have to carry around your viola as well as your viola d’amore and the rest of your luggage. Most airlines won’t allow you on the flight with two instruments which necessitates bribing some unsuspecting member of the choir or a keyboard player into carrying one of the instruments for you. On this particular tour we had a flight (sometimes two) every day. Stephaan, the tour assistant, got on the case and found three instruments from which I could make a choice. I then had to decide, without seeing any of them, which one sounded most promising.
“I turned up three hours before the first rehearsal in Amsterdam to hurriedly get acquainted with the instrument and I was most pleasantly surprised. He had found a viola d’amore made in 1757 by the English maker John Marshall. It had been most kindly loaned by Bouman violin shop in The Hague and all the orchestra had to do was pay the insurance.
it feels like an old friend and I have the distinct sensation that its presence and participation in the coming project is a thing meant to be.
“It was the first time I felt a real affinity with an instrument from the moment I picked it up. It was just perfect. This instrument felt really comfortable and easy to play-easy isn’t a word you naturally associate with the viola d’amore given its odd shape and all those extra strings you have to tune! I had a lovely time getting to know the instrument on that tour and was sad to hear on returning it that it wasn’t for sale. I did ascertain, however, that I might be able to borrow it again if needed.
“When AAM announced its intentions to perform and record the John Passion and I was asked to play one of the d’amore parts I knew immediately that I wanted to borrow the Marshall — it really felt like nothing else would do. The problem was how to transport it from Holland to the UK. We racked our brains on how to do this without specifically forking out for a return flight in one day and it was all looking a bit difficult. Andrew Moore (our Orchestral Manager) and I came up with a somewhat complicated plan that involved me leaving Paris at the end of one tour at 6.30 am to get to the Hague for 9am, collecting the instrument and meeting up with the rest of the orchestra at Schiphol airport to get the bus to our concert in Groningen (North Holland) later that day. Out of the blue on the morning that we were about to book the train ticket I got a message from a friend Marcin who just happened to live in the Hague on the same street as the violin shop! He had miraculously remembered me mentioning in passing several months previously the need to transport the instrument and was coming to London to play a concert the following week — and strangely enough he was coming to play with Rachel Podger, my first St John Passion partner!
“As I write this, the viola d’amore is sitting next to me having arrived only two days ago. I’m just delighted to see it again — it feels like an old friend and I have the distinct sensation that its presence and participation in the coming project is a thing meant to be. I am so looking forward to playing it. I’d like to thank Lies Bouman of Bouman violin shop Den Haag for her generosity and trust in lending this beautiful specimen of one of the most characterful members of the string family.”

Interview with Paul Miller: The Viola d’Amore in the St. John Passion

German viola d'amore, XIX Century

domenica 5 ottobre 2014