LSM Newswire

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Artists Release Bach Sonatas for Viola Da Gamba by Audrey and Paul Cienniwa

Artful Bach Sonatas

Grace and beauty define the New England duo Audrey and Paul Cienniwa (SIN-uh-wah) as they perform these beloved pieces.

On this recording, Audrey Cienniwa fluently demonstrates that her "baroque", gut-string violoncello piccolo suits Bach's viola da gamba sonatas admirably. And, together with Paul Cienniwa's elegant harpsichord, offer the listener every reason to pay special attention to their performance.

This debut release for Whaling City Sound was performed in the acoustic majesty of Boston's First Church and deftly captured by engineer Angus Lansing. Paul and Audrey's gifted reading is further enhanced by the superior sonics evident on this disc.

Rounding out the CD are two cantata aria transcriptions. Written for cello piccolo, solo voice and continuo; they are the Cienniwa's own transcriptions, with the harpsichord providing the continuo part and solo voice.

Audrey and Paul began playing as a duo in 1998 after meeting in Brussels as students. Since then, they have performed regularly throughout New England and Europe, part of a new generation of early music performers, specializing in historical performances of the Baroque and pre-Classical periods.

Now a teacher at the Music School of the Rhode Island Philharmonic and Providence College, Audrey studied the baroque cello with the renowned Hidemi Suzuki.

Following undergraduate studies at DePaul University with harpsichordist Roger Goodman, Paul was awarded a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale in 2003, where he was a student of Richard Rephann. He is currently active on many fronts as the Music Director of Newport Baroque, Sine Nomine choral ensemble and First Church in Boston.

This gracious commentary by renowned harpsichord performer and instrument expert, Bach specialist, writer, educator, and recording producer Peter Watchorn brings it all into focus.

"This new recording of the three sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord, played on the 5-string cello piccolo by Audrey Cienniwa, and partnered by harpsichordist Paul Cienniwa provides a high level of artistry from both performers as well as the level of ensemble that comes only from long experience of playing together. It is well paced, thoughtful and flexible in the best sense. The readings combine virtuosity and gravitas, rhythmic precision and a fine sense of phrasing and architecture: the perfect mix in Bach performance.

"The use of the five-string cello provides a level of clarity and cutting-power from the string instrument that is hard to match on the viola da gamba, and its use is no less authentic. The disc is augmented by transcriptions by the performers of substantial movements from two Bach cantatas (BWV 175 & 183), a practice occasionally undertaken by Bach himself, for example in one version of the G major sonata for violin & harpsichord, where a movement reappears as an aria in cantata BWV 120. Good sound, excellent performances. A truly worthy release for all Bach lovers."

Audrey & Paul Cienniwa's Bach Sonatas for Viola da Gamba is a special gift to all music lovers.

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