Five different basso continuo instrumentations
Based on the information in part III. of this research, there are at least five instrumentations for the basso continuo group that could very well have been used in the Netherlands between 1725 - 1766:
1. Only harpsichord
2. Harpsichord and a large 8 foot instrument
3. Harpsichord, a large 8 foot instrument and a theorbo
4. Harpsichord and double bass
5. Harpsichord, double bass and a theorbo.
In order to investigate the musical impact of these options, I decided to record excerpts of the VI Concerti Armonici with all of the five instrumentation options instead of using existent recordings. In this way, the comparison between different options would be more thrustworthy. Moreover, none of the existing recordings has a version with just harpsichord or seems to have investigated the use of an 8 foot instrument larger than the violoncello obligato.1
I picked a six string violone tuned in G as a large 8 foot instrument because this instrument was probably one of the various types of bass instruments around in the Netherlands at that time.
Despite the modern look of the room, the acoustic is probably not very different from that in the rooms where the collegium musicum gathered and where the first performances of the Concerti Armonici took place. From 1746, Van Wassenaer lived in large house at the Kneuterdijk in The Hague. Before that, he lived in a smaller house that on the northeastern part of Noordeinde that does not exist anymore. It is not unlikely that the large rooms in these houses had a high ceiling, high windows with curtains and a wooden floor with carpets, since the climate in the Netherlands is not particularly warm and houses did not have central heating.
The sound engineer and I decided to not use individual microphones, but one high quality stereo microphone. In this way, the recording would reflect the acoustics of the room without having the necessity to make changes in the microphone set-up for each time we switched to another basso continuo instrumentation.