Maddalena and the Prince by Maddalena del Gobbo
Maddalena and the Prince is the second of Maddalena del Gobbo’s concept albums for Deutsche Gramophon, following on from Henriette: the Princess of the Viol – a disc of viola da gamba music originally dedicated to young Princess Anne Henriette of France. Now, playing both gamba and baryton (a cousin of the viola da gamba, but lower in resonance), she pays tribute to baryton enthusiast Prince Nicholas Esterházy. Gobbo has curated a program of music by Haydn and his contemporaries, composed expressly for Esterházy, and recorded in the place of premiere: the Haydnsaal of Esterházy Palace.
I loved Gobbo’s previous baroque album, and her latest classical offering does not disappoint. Moving forward in time and shifting from France to Germany, the repertoire includes baryton music by lesser-known composers Andreas Lidl, Franz Hammer, and Luigi Tommasini. Hitherto unknown to me, I particularly enjoyed Hammer’s sonata no. 1 in A major for gamba and harpsichord – a preference which may expose my predilection for the viola da gamba in Gobbo’s hands! But baryton – which Gobbo plays brilliantly – is the focus here. Its timbre is deeper and warmer than the gamba’s, but has a similar earthiness about it. Joined by David Pennetzdorfer (cello) and Robert Bauerstatter (viola), Haydn’s baryton trios sound rich and luscious, and undeniably classical. Tomasini’s sprightly trio in C Major – which bears strong resemblance to its baroque predecessors – is a highlight: fun, lilting, but still elegant.
I previously compared Gobbo to Jordi Savall, and again he is immediately brought to mind. However, unlike gambists past with their comparatively rustic aesthetic, Maddalena del Gobbo is a gambist for a new age: she is young, female, glamorous, and has a growing Instagram following. But make no mistake; she is a serious – and seriously good – musician.