Main Subject: Baroque Cello
Research Coach: Johannes Boer
Research Question: What basso continuo instrumentation possibilities exist in baroque cello sonatas, and specifically in the works of Jean-Baptiste Barrière?
Basso continuo is an essential part of baroque music, but the instrumentation of it is often ignored or dismissed. All too often, modern performers play with harpsichord and cello without considering the other options. This research paper investigates what the most common instrumentations for the basso continuo were in France and Italy, as well as what exceptions were made. The goal of the paper is to have a better understanding as to what instrument combinations can be added to baroque cello sonatas, and specifically to those of Jean-Baptiste Barrière. This composer was chosen because of the inventiveness, virtuosity, and unique nature of his music. Since there is little evidence relating directly to the cello, the continuo groups in orchestral, chamber, and solo music are investigated. The sources used include treatises and instrument manuals from the time, indications in the scores, records of basso continuo groups in concerts, and the opinions of present scholars on the subject. This information is then applied to practice through a series of instrumentation experiments on sonatas of Barrière, with a second cello, double bass, archlute, guitar, and harpsichord. Recorded samples of this process are supplied and discussed. The presentation will include an overview and discussion of the sources and evidence found, and live musical demonstrations will be presented by myself and colleagues.