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Interview with Hille Perl in Fanfare

August 20, 2023

Jerry Dubins

Interview with Hille Perl

An Interview with Hille Perl, gambist in the recent disc by OUR Recordings entitled Corellimania.

I had the opportunity to interview one of the three fine musicians who released their recording of works by or surrounding the music of Archangelo Corelli: recorder player Michala Petri, gambist Hille Perl, and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani.

Thank you so much for talking to me about this recording and welcome! The recording of these works surrounding and including the sonatas of Archangelo Corelli are wonderful; how did you arrive at this idea for such a disc?

Because Mahan and Michala had already dived into Corelli's world before I joined the two for our recording of the Bach Sonatas, it was quite logical that we would follow the traces of Corelli's works and uncover the undoubted influence he had on the development on compositions in the first half of the 18th century.

What intrigues you about the position of Corelli during his time and how did this influence your choice of program?

It is very interesting that Corelli, unlike most of his contemporaries, wrote exclusively instrumental music: he gave instrumental music another perhaps higher significance, and because his works were published and available all over Europe, he became an example for many aspiring musicians.
Our choice for the program on this album was the result of a brainstorm the three of us had in a dressing room briefly before another concert. You may think it is a random collection, but it is what appeared when the three of us put our heads together and spontaneously threw ideas into the bucket.

What were some of the issues, if any, that arose during the development of this program?

We wanted to have a colorful disc: one that shows different aspects of style that were still connected to our theme and a diverse combination of sounds, with the idea to enchant the ear of the listener instead of tiring the mind.

Tell me a bit more about the Bach duos. Though I have heard what I think is most of Bach's music, these are new to me.

For many years I have been fascinated by these pieces - they are quite unknown - I first heard them hen my father played the a-minor (BWV805) on the organ, and it was my father who suggested it could be
played on two viols. The counterpoint is exquisite and since the pieces are called 'duets' they can be understood as a highly intelligent conversation between two voices: each imitating the other yet giving
different colors and articulations to the motives and phrases. It is a wonderful experience to be allowed to play them.

What were some of the things that you encountered as you recorded this program?

We tried many different ways to vary the instrumentation: the size of recorder, the octaves the viol should play in to make the best blend and distinction, and the best registration of the harpsichord; Mahan is brilliant in finding a million ways to accommodate the continuo-line harmonically, as well as melodically. I think he never played the same thing twice with continuo as we recorded the sonatas. It was a pleasure to work in this way and have the freedom to experiment as we went along.
The quirky piece here is the Telemann "Corelli" sonata, number two of a set, I believe. What do you think of this interesting, if eclectic work?

Until the ending we were not quite sure if we really should have the “Corellisante” in there, it has a lot of humor - as Telemann tends to have - and it adds a totally different color. And of course, it is so
interesting that Telemann makes a true example of the “Vermischter Geschmack:” he uses Corelli's name and turns it into a French adjective, writing a sonata that is neither very French nor Italian. But by doing so, he makes us think about it. Maybe it was just a sales strategy but maybe also it was a way of expressing respect.

The Bach chorale was particularly effective in concluding the disc on a thoughtful note. Why this particular piece (chosen from another set)? Did it have a special meaning?

Again, this is one of my favorite pieces: the theme is a very famous melody, widely used all over middle Europe in the 16th to 18th centuries: another title for it is “La Monica,” in France it was known as “Une Jeune fillette” and another German version is “Mit Ernst, Oh Menschenkinder”. We have a very comprehensible melody that touches the mind very deeply on a subconscious level and Bach’s fabulous counterpoint and sequencing spun from the material and beyond.

What does the trio think of the setting of the music here? I mean, were there any practical things that turning what is essentially string music into recorder and viola da gamba entailed?

As in all times, musicians will be fascinated with certain musical ideas and compositions and make them work on whatever musical machine--or voice--they can use in a skillful way. We just played around with the music until we felt we found a way to make it work. We know that most of the composers, i.e. Bach himself, used his own compositional material and turned into different versions; for example BWV 1028 was originally a sonata for two flutes and continuo and later became a gamba sonata, or BWV 528, where the first movement later became the Sinfonia for the second part of BWV 76 Die Himmel erzählen die Ehre Gottes There is a good example where Bach changes the octave of the left hand of the organ trio sonata to accommodate the material to the range of the viola da gamba. We just do what is necessary to make it work. I wouldn't call it “arranging;” it is just playing with it until it feels right.

Given the neat and wonderfully expressive recording here, what > else would you as a trio like to explore?

It is an interesting question, isn't it? I think there is no lack of ideas, which I won't give away yet, including, of course, the hope for some newly written music to explore yet different aspects of how the
three soundscapes can complement each other and find each other’s acoustic neighborhood. We'll see and hear what the future offers us.

Thank you again for such wonderful insight. I look forward to your next disc! Jerry Dubins, August 21.2023

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