Paolo Pandolfo


"One of the most brilliant and poetic of the instrument's current exponents" (Gramophone, UK)


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  • Last Recording : Marin Marais - Pièces à une et à deux violes et basse continue - (1686-1689)

  • Viola da Gamba
  • Director of ensemble "Labyrinto"
  • Professor at the "Schola Cantorum Basiliensis"
  • Composer



1-7 Suite VIII en la majeur

8-14 Suite I en ré mineur

15-21 Suite IV en sol majeur

22-28 Suite V en ré mineur

About this CD

With his performance of the music of De Machy, Paolo Pandolfo is enriching the recorded survey of solo viola da gamba music with a very special contribution; such as he has done before with his recordings of music by Sainte-Colombe, Abel or of his most warmly-received recording, the Bach Cello Suites in their transcription for viola da gamba.

The publication of the Pièces de Violle (Paris, 1685), the first of the literature for the viola da gamba in France, unleashed a veritable polemic or querelle with Jean Rousseau concerning the
“true manner of playing the viola”, which had been described by De Machy with a wealth of details in the prologue to his work and in which radiates an enormous sense of aplomb and certainty. His advocacy for the viola da gamba as a harmonic (or chordal) as well as a melodic instrument was to go on to have a significant influence on later composers such as Marin Marais and Antoine Forqueray.

With his recording and also in his accompanying essay, Paolo Pandolfo places special emphasis on one facet of these pieces which tends to pass unnoticed: their danceable character. Countless sources from the time tell us about the vigorousness of the interest in the dance in the 17th century, a passion practiced in an almost obsessive way not only by the court nobility but by the rural aristocracy and the wealthier bourgeoisie as well. This all makes the vision of a viola da gamba accompanying such dances a very suggestive one indeed…


  • JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH (1685-1750 ) - Sonatas for viola da gamba

    Sonata I, BWV 1027 01 Adagio 02 Allegro, ma non tanto 03 Andante 04 Allegro moderato 05 Preludio (improvised) 06 Komm, süßes Kreuz (Recitativo & Aria, Matthäus-Passion, BWV 244)

    Sonata II, BWV 1028 07 Adagio 08 Allegro 09 Andante 10 Allegro 11 Es ist vollbracht (Aria, Johannes-Passion, BWV 245)

    Sonata III, BWV 1029 12 Vivace 13 Adagio 14 Allegro

    About this CD

    Fifteen years on from his earlier recording of Bach’s three Sonatas for viola da gamba and harpsichord (on Harmonia Mundi, alongside Rinaldo Alessandrini), Paolo Pandolfo is now returning to this repertory with a thoroughly-rethought approach, the fruit of active and concentrated years of consideration, study and research into the inherent possibilities of his instrument. Given the basic differing natures of these two instruments, the performance of these works very often turns – in Pandolfo’s words – into a “musical argument”, rather than what is demanded by the music’s essential nature: a “musical conversation” in which the score achieves “transparency and eloquence”.

    For this exercise in interpretative discourse Paolo Pandolfo has found a suitably-engaged musical mind in harpsichordist Markus Hünninger, a friend for many years and a teacher, like Pandolfo, at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis. The resulting disc has a very personal flavour to it, reiterating the uncompromising sense of quality in all that the Roman gamba player does. Following on from his essential recordings of music by Forqueray, Hume, Marais, Sainte Colombe and Abel, he is now rounding off on Glossa his own particular vision of Bach, which he commenced in 2000 with the recording of the now-legendary Six Suites.

    To complete the disc there are two vocal arias with obbligato viola da gamba drawn from two of Bach’s Passions, in which Pandolfo is joined by two leading early music singers of recent times, the countertenor Michael Chance and the bass Harry van der Kamp.




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Last Update06-03-16 - Andrea Sermoneta web master