G062, G063, G501

Carl Friedrich Abel, Six Easy Sonattas ...

The Six Easy Sonattas are an an ideal introduction for players seeking to expand their horizons and repertoire into the Classic period. They would also make excellent, if rather slight, recital pieces, expecially for audiences unfamiliar with the viol. The 'easy' label might put some people off, but Abel himself eschewed virtuosity unless it was needed for expressive purposes. The facsimile edition is extremely attractive and easy to read (if you can play the bass viol from treble clef), but there is an alternate edition with also alto clef available (G062 Sonatas 1-3, & G063 Sonatas 4-6).

The sonatas are generally in three movements: Allegro, Adagio, Minuet, each movement being in a binary form. The adagios are perhaps the most difficult to bring off, needing expressive playing to prevent their sounding rather perfunctory - Abel was especially praised for his playing of adagios.

All are very carefully and skilfully written to get the best out of the instrument without making undue technical demands; in the few forays above the frets, both approach and retreat are very carefully planned, keys are chosen that utilise the resonance of the viol and the flahier figuration always makes use of very easy fingering and bowing patterns. More importantly, the music has a tunefulmess and charm that should win over any player and listener.

Andrew Kerr,
The Viol No. 2, Viola da Gamba Society of Great Britain, April 2006