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Morsches fuels the oft-refuted argument that Emanuel Bach’s two sonatas Wq136 and 137 were conceived for a form of ‘discant gamba’. Her accounts, played on a five-stringed violoncello piccolo, are well attuned to the sensibility of the period, tackling the expressive opening movements with lyricism and flexibility and dispatching their cadenzas freedom and imagination. She ornaments tellingly, often holding appoggiaturas for as long as she dare, as in the Arioso of Wq136; but the faster movements lack clarity of articulation, particularly in the low register and in passages involving string crossing, and incorporate some intonation lapses, notably in the second and third movements of Wq137.

Articulation problems also extend to some of the fast movements of Alborea’s sonatas – ironically, those in C and G, played here on baroque cello. Some audible shifts and minor inaccuracies also cloud the texture; otherwise, Morsches gives enjoyable readings, shaping the line expressively (sample the brief unaccompanied Adagio of the G major), embellishing elegantly and meeting most technical challenges, notably the ‘elastic bowings’ in the Allegro of the Sonata in C. Her choice of violoncello piccolo for Alborea’s high-ranging D major sonata works well. Various instrumental combinations make up the colourful continuo groupings, but the warmly resonant church recording overcooks the harpsichord for my taste, especially in Bach’s sonatas.

Robin Stowell Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2014 - ©Rhinegold Publishing