My debut solo album on viola da gamba, Tickle the Minikin, was released on 16th May 2014. It is a recording of 17th-century lyra-viol works taken from a largely-unknown manuscript of mysterious origin, now known as British Library Manuscript MS Mus 249.
The booklet notes, which can be downloaded for free here , give a brief introduction to the world of the lyra-viol and the work involved in preparing the recording. An in depth article I wrote examining the manuscript in detail was published in The Viola da Gamba Society Journal in Spring 2014. The article can be viewed directly by clicking here.
Robert Smith (viola da gamba)
Viola da gambist and founder member of the acclaimed Baroque trio Fantasticus Robert Smith makes his solo recording debut with a fascinating programme of 17th-century works for lyra viol. Employing new editions prepared by the performer, the majority of this stunning recital is from English composers and was sourced from a manuscript collection of mysterious origin housed in the British Library.
Containing a varied array of composers, styles as well as unusual tunings, Smith’s polished virtuoso performances showcase the obvious accomplishments of the original owner and compiler of this valuable collection including music from such names as John Jenkins, Thomas Mace, Dietrich Steffkins, Simon Ives & Charles Coleman.
‘[…] you are constantly astonished by the variety of conversations going on within each musical dance. Smith’s approach to this specialist but diverting repertoire […] is a judicious mix of the scholarly and the pragmatic.’
‘Robert Smith is an outstanding interpreter, casting eloquent and long-breathed contrapuntal lines. The airy acoustic captures the resonance of his instrument in a recording that delights and surprises.’
BBC Music Magazine (Instrumental Choice, 5* performance & recording)
‘[…] abundant integrity has gone into this beautifully engineered recording’
‘An exemplary showcase for the music of a forgotten member of the English viol consort […] His tone is sonorous and his readings are technically assured and mostly musically engaging […] nurturing nuances of phrasing and tempo, as well as a variety of ornaments, with care and refinement.’
‘[Smith] has carefully programmed his recital for maximum interest and unfailingly takes just the right approach to each piece[…] a fascinating and magnificently performed recital of recondite and yet attractive music’
International Record Review
‘Robert Smith, a specialist on the viola da gamba, certainly tickles his to good effect in this collection of English and Dutch pieces for the lyra-viol […] Smith’s recital is a pleasant tour of the instrument’s capabilities in a variety of tunings’
‘[…]playing of this quality cannot fail to delight, especially when it’s so well recorded’
MusicWeb International (Discovery of the Month)