Terry Robbins
The Whole Note, Canada
October 2015

The ever-reliable English cellist Steven Isserlis is back with yet another delightful CD, this time with harpsichordist Richard Egarr on Bach, Handel and Scarlatti Gamba Sonatas.

Bach’s three sonatas—in G Major BWV1027, D Major BWV1028 and G Minor BWV1029—are programmed around Domenico Scarlatti’s Sonata in D Minor Kk90 and Handel’s Violin Sonata in G Minor HWV364b. The Handel here relies on an authentic manuscript version that shows the opening of the violin part lowered an octave and indicated as for viola da gamba. In this work and the Scarlatti the players are joined by Robin Michael on cello continuo.

Isserlis points out that playing with a harpsichord allows him 'to play as lightly as possible without ever courting inaudibility,' the result is playing of grace, lightness and warmth. Add the usual intelligent and insightful booklet notes written by Isserlis in his inimitable style—he even quotes Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel at one point—and the whole package is another winner.