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Olivier Opdebeeck
Diapason, September 2001

American Record Guide, June 2001

"Schenck is the latest of the baroque viol virtuosos to be explored on disc, and his music is well worth hearing. Both of these are fine projects carried out with virtuosity and recorded with clarity."

Michelene Wandor
Early Music Review, March 2001

"Written sometime between 1697 and 1706, these duos for viola da gamba are a joy to listen to. Inevitably, with these dates in mind, the repertoire invites comparison with the towering influence of Marais, the eclectic Forqueray, and user-friendly Boismortier. In fact, these full-scale duos are a demanding must for the encouragement of self-sufficiency for serious gamba players. The six sonatas interweave sonatas da chiesa and da camera, infiltrate Italianate movements with accompanying dances, and seamlessly alternate melodic and harmonic functions for the two instruments. The tessitura never goes either very high or very low (with the occasional exception, as in the deep opening of the G minor sonata), but the imitation and counterpoint can be fast and furious (the F major Allegro), the glancing suspensions lightly leading (D major Adagio), and the long lines always full of musical interest. Susie Napper and Margaret Little have played together since 1985, and it shows in the impeccable ensemble, in the sensitive antiphonal exchanges, and in a melding of sound which for much of the time seems as if there is only one instrument between the two of them. If I have a reservation at all, it is because there is a coyness and shyness between the two of them. Resonance can be achieved with enfle strokes lower down the viol, but at the top, sweetness is all. Naxos has added a valuable CD to the viol repertoire."

Jen-yen Chen
Early Music America, March 2001

"The playing of Napper and Little demonstrates a sure mastery of the virtuoso challenges of this music and ranges flexibly between a richly resonant sound and a lively rhythmic energy, according to the differing moods of the sonata movements. The combination of interesting, unusual repertoire with a sympathetic and convincing performance from first-rate musicians justifies a favorable recommendation for this fine new disc."

David Vernier, December 2000

"What's a critic supposed to do? The last thing you want is to go around just handing out top ratings, but what choice do you have when you hear a disc such as this one? On the surface it's got very little going for it--obscure repertoire, esoteric instruments, and it's chamber music to boot! And for the whole disc, all you hear is two solo bass violas da gamba--no orchestra, no keyboard, no exotic winds or percussion. But I'm willing to bet that if you hear this, if you have even the remotest appreciation for beautiful melody, for the richly-colored, reedy sonority of ideally matched stringed instruments, and a fascination with the essence of chamber music--a real dialogue between players--you will be pleased and happily surprised. It's not Bach or Marais, and it's not masterpiece-caliber music, but these six sonatas by 17th-century Dutch-born composer Johannes Schenck (1660-c. 1712) show an unusually accomplished facility for dramatic, interactive part-writing as well as a thorough command of the gamba's technical limits and possibilities. Schenck was a virtuoso player himself (he was one of the many stars at the Düsseldorf court from about 1696 until his death), and the two performers on this recording, members of the Quebec-based Les Voix Humaines, not only grasp the music's considerable technical demands, but fully embrace its more or less free-flowing style, weaving and tossing and shaping their lines, playing with and against each other in a spirited, sometimes improvisatory-like conversation. Le Nymphe di Rheno (The Nymphs of the Rhine) is the title of Schenck's Op. 8 collection of 12 sonatas of which half are presented on this Volume 1. I'm actually looking forward to more of this music from these very fine musicians on Volume 2. And the full-bodied sound makes the whole thing just about perfect."

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