The Birth of the Cello - 1

This programme traces the crystallisation of the violoncello’s modern form from a time when its identity was fluid; neither fully distinct from its viol-family cousins, nor completely emancipated as a solo instrument. Each of the composers featured was writing for his very own instrument, which emphasises the visceral nature of these works; this is unashamedly music for bodies as much as the spirit.


Diego Ortiz (c.1510 - c. 1570)
Recercada No.2 from the Trattado de Glosas
VW: baby violoncello after Gasparo da Salò (tuned G-d-a-d')
JR: bass viol

Domenico Gabrielli (1651/1659? - 1690)
Sonata in G Major (1st version)
JR: four-string violoncello (tuned C-G-d-g)
VW: four-string violoncello

Carl Friedrich Abel (1723 - 1787)
The Drexel Manuscript (selected movements)
JR: bass viol

Jean-Baptiste Barrière (1707 - 1747)
Sonata No.5 (Book I) in F Major
VW: four-string violoncello
JR: four-string violoncello

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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Suite No.5 in C minor
VW: four-string violoncello (tuned C-G-d-g)

Giuseppe Maria Jacchini (1663 - 1727)
Sonata in A minor
VW: baby violoncello after Gasparo da Salò (tuned G-d-a-d')
JR: bass viol

Luigi Boccherini (1743 - 1805)
Sonata in A Major
JR: five-string violoncello (tuned C-G-d-a-e')
VW: four-string violoncello

Domenico Gabrielli
Canon for two cellos
JR: five-string violoncello (tuned C-G-d-a-e')
VW: four-string violoncello

Full programme notes for this programme here

The Birth of the Cello - 2

This programme traces the crystallisation of the violoncello’s modern form from a time when its identity was fluid; neither fully distinct from its viol-family cousins, nor completely emancipated as a solo instrument. Each of the composers featured was writing for his very own instrument, which emphasises the visceral nature of these works; this is unashamedly music for bodies as much as the spirit.


Diego Ortiz (c.1510 - c. 1570)
Recercada No.4 from the Trattado de Glosas
JR: bass viol
VW: small violoncello after Gasparo da Salò (tuned G-d-a-d')

Domenico Gabrielli (1651/1659? - 1690)
Selected Ricercari for solo violoncello
VW: four-string violoncello

Domenico Gabrielli (1651/1659? - 1690)
Sonata in A Major
VW: four-string violoncello
JR: four-string violoncello

Jean-Baptiste Barrière (1707 - 1747)
Sonata No.6 (Book I) in A Major
JR: four-string violoncello
VW: four-string violoncello

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Giuseppe Maria Jacchini (1663 - 1727)
Sonata in A minor
VW: small violoncello after Gasparo da Salò (tuned G-d-a-d')
JR: bass viol

Johann Sebastian Bach (1685 - 1750)
Suite No.6 in D Major
JR: five-string violoncello (tuned C-G-d-a-e')

Luigi Boccherini (1743 - 1805)
Sonata in F Major, G.1
VW: four-string violoncello
JR: five-string violoncello (tuned C-G-d-a-e')

Domenico Gabrielli
Canon for two cellos
JR: five-string violoncello (tuned C-G-d-a-e')
VW: four-string violoncello

Alla bolognese

Music from the hotpot that was Bologna in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Works for bass violin and/or violoncello by Gabrielli, Jacchini, Bononcini and Corelli.

Les prétentions du violoncelle

In 1740, Le Blan felt that the viol was losing its domination over the french musical scene, and felt compelled to write his "Défense de la basse de viole contre les entreprises du violon et les prétentions du violoncelle". This programme traces the emergence of virtuoso cello playing in 18th century France, from Berteau, Corrette, Boismortier and Barrière to Cupis, Tricklir and Duport

Influences on the young Boccherini

Works from Boccherini's youth in Vienna, including sonatas by Costanzi, Galeotti, Francischello and Antonio Valotti, but also arrangements of ballet music and opera arias by Christoph von Gluck (Luigi's sister Maria Ester Boccherini danced in his narrative ballet Don Juan), Salieri (who set libretti by Boccherini's poet brother Giovanni Gastone Boccherini) and taken from Italian comic opera, as well as sonatas by Boccherini himself.

Pioneers of the fingerboard

A virtuosic programme tracing the progress higher and higher up the fingerboard of cellists in 18th century Europe, to include works by Barrière, Lanzetti, Filtz and Janson.

Alla bastarda

A programme of divisions and improvisations in the bastarda style, to include recercadas and other written out improvisations by Ortiz, Simpson, as well as improvisations by the Duo on some early madrigals and ground basses.

Expatriated musicians

Music has always been a travelling profession. This programme explores music by composers who lived most of their lives away from the country they were born and brought up in. To include works by Geminiani, Antoniotti, Abel, Cervetto, Duport, Boccherini, Cirri, Canavas.