Ariosti, vol. 3

Ariosti's The Stockholm Sonatas Vol. III

Finally, with the release of the final vol. 3, Bis 1675, in Dec. 08, my Ariosti recording project is complete.

Bis 1675 Attilio Ariosti The Stockholm Sonatas III: Recueil de Pieces pour la Viola dAmour, part 2 and the Canata Pur al fin gentil viola, with Emma Kirkby.

I have copies of all my Bis CDs, so it is possible to purchase them from me. If you do, I actually make money on the cds, which is nice. This doesn't happen, for example, when they are sold at Tafelmusik concerts. I accept paypal. or checks in US $ or in C$'s. Please email me if you are interested: thomasgeorgi(at)

You can hear samples of this repertoire on the Bis/Naxos listening service: While you are at this site, don't miss the amazing fortepiano recordings by Ronald Brautigam of the complete keyboard music of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven. There is so much of these very well known composers that I have never heard before, that is just amazing. And this is just the beginning of what you can hear from this outstanding record label.

Here is the text of the final volume of Ariosti's Stockholm Sonatas:

In this final volume of my series, I explore the possibility that Ariosti strung his viola d’amore as a soprano range instrument. (My conclusion, by the way, fellow players, is that Ariosti tuned all his strings over the range of a M3rd, and the 3rd and 6th strings over a 4th!) You will thus hear a top string of c'' or d'', depending on the work. Mostly I am happy with this soprano tessitura solution: Sonata 15, for example, is unplayable without the top c'' string. On the other hand, Sonata 18 and Sonata 20 benefit from an alto range tuning on the instrument, although they can be managed in my soprano range set up. In these cases I had to choose between the ideal solution and the practical one. There is a limit to the number of changes a player and his instrument can master/endure during the four-day period of a recording session. In this final session there were eight works, and seven different tunings.

It is striking that Ariosti did not even chose the same tuning set up for different sonatas in the same key. I have therefore had to conclude that the fascination of the viola d’amore for him was the opportunity it offered him to invent the instrument from scratch each time he wrote a new piece, always to finding new possibilities every time he created a work. This restless quality is mirrored in the history of the viola d’amore. Whether it was Bach in the St John Passion, where the d’amore accompanies the contemplation of the meaning of the scourging of Christ, or Janáček in Katya Kabanova, where the d’amore represents Katya’s soul, it is the instruments mysteriousness, its lack of fixed specifications that gives the composer the creative opportunity he needs to make a special point. This quality even makes itself felt outside of classical music. There are two novels in which the viola d’amore plays a special part: Doktor Faustus and La Passion selon Urhan. Especially surprising to me, a number of Hollywood productions, both TV and film, over the last 40 years, including everything from the Twilight Zone to the Simpsons, include the instrument on their sound tracks. There is even a modern Pop Art print, by Arman (Fernandez Armand) called Viola d’amore: