During the 1730s, the cello began to be used as a solo instrument for the first time in France. The new album “Entrez, le Diable! The Virtuoso Cello at the Concert Spirituel” celebrates some of the early music for solo cello that audiences found both enthralling and a little scandalous.
Until the first part of the 18th century, the cello only appeared in a supporting role in the orchestra or in chamber music in France. It was considered unsophisticated, and musicians preferred the viola da gamba as a solo instrument. That all changed in 1736, when Salvatore Lanzetti presented a series of concerts in Paris where he played his own compositions that featured the cello as a solo instrument for the first time. Some audience members were horrified, but most were fascinated. The cello’s reign as a solo instrument in France had begun.
The music on this album offers several examples of how composers in France wrote for the solo cello during the middle of the eighteenth century. In the sonata by Francois Martin, the composer calls for the performer to use her chin on the fingerboard as opposed to her fingers to create the pedal tones. In Jean-Baptiste Barrière’s Sonata in D major, the cellist plays leaps of a 17th, which is more than two octaves.
This album features Juliana Soltis. She plays a baroque cello, which differs from a modern cello because it has soft gut strings, a short fingerboard and no endpin and is played with a short, convex bow. Soltis is joined by Adaiha MacAdam-Somer on viola da gamba, Lucas Harris on theorbo, and Justin Murphy-Mancini on harpsichord.