Acclaimed Boston cellist releases second installment of career-defining Bach project

In 2014, the acclaimed Boston-based cellist and gambist Shirley Hunt embarked on a career-defining project: to record the complete Bach Cello Suites and Viola da Gamba Sonatas on period instruments. On October 23, 2017, J.S. Bach Suites and Sonatas, Vol. 2, the second of three discs in this ambitious compendium, was released on the independent label Letterbox Arts. When Hunt releases the final installment in 2018, she will become the first American, as well as the first woman, to record these complete Suites and Sonatas on period instruments.

Hunt’s recording project, while musically ambitious and potentially historic, has its roots in a deeply personal family legacy around Bach. The three-part compendium is dedicated to the memory of Hunt’s sister, the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. “This recording project is a way to express my gratitude for my sister’s life, and my admiration for her legacy as an interpreter of baroque music, especially Bach,” Hunt says. “I wanted to find a way to contribute to, and continue, the beauty she left behind in her incredible recordings.”

Featuring harpsichordist Ian Pritchard on tracks 7-10, this installment of the compendium includes Bach’s Cello Suite No. 2 in D minor, the Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord in G Major, and Cello Suite No. 5 in C minor. Notably, the fifth suite is the only one in which Bach employed scordatura—the intentional de-tuning of the A string down to G—and offers a special showcase of Hunt’s remarkable instrument, a violoncello made in 1775 by William Forster Sr.

The final installment of Hunt’s recording trilogy will be released in 2019. On this final recording, Hunt will perform Bach’s Suite No. 6 on a rare 5-string cello, made in 1720, from the musical instrument collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The final disc will also include Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 in C Major and the Sonata for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord in D Major.

About the Performers
Boston-based baroque cellist and viola da gamba player Shirley Hunt enjoys a vibrant international career as a soloist, chamber musician, and continuo player. Recent season highlights include performances at the Boston Early Music Festival, Madison Early Music Festival, La Jolla Music Society SummerFest, Phillips Collection, Strathmore Mansion, National Sawdust, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the Sala Nezahualcóyotl in Mexico City. She performs regularly at the Metropolitan Museum of Art with acclaimed Renaissance ensemble Sonnambula, and appears often as a soloist with Boston’s finest early music ensembles, including the Handel and Haydn Society, Boston Baroque, and Emmanuel Music. In 2018, she will give debut performances at Caramoor, the Morgan Library, and the Westerkerk in Amsterdam.

Ian Pritchard is a harpsichordist, organist, and musicologist specializing in early music and historical keyboard practices. He has collaborated with the world’s leading figures in early music as a continuo player, chamber musician, and concerto soloist. He currently resides in Los Angeles, where he is a PhD candidate in musicology, and where he appears frequently with ensembles such as the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra.

 

Additional information
Complete Track Listing:
1-6:  Suite for solo cello No. 2 in D minor – J.S. Bach
7-10:  Sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord No. 1 in G Major – J.S. Bach
11-16:  Suite for solo cello No. 5 in C Minor – J.S. Bach

J.S. Bach Suites & Sonatas, Vol. 2 was recorded at The Chapel at West Parish in Andover, MA.  The album is available for purchase via Letterbox Arts at www.letterboxarts.com, and is also available on iTunes, Amazon.com, and Spotify.  Copies of this recording are also available for purchase in the gift shop at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City, CA.

Shirley Hunt Debuts with Multi-instrumental Bach Recording

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BOSTON, MA, February 3rd, 2014 – Letterbox Arts is delighted to announce the release of J.S. Bach Suites & Sonatas Volume One, the inaugural recording in an ambitious three-part series by baroque cellist and viola da gamba player Shirley HuntThis ground-breaking new recording offers listeners the unusual opportunity to hear Bach’s cello suites and viola da gamba sonatas performed side-by-side by the same artist.  Available February 17th, Hunt's debut album includes the turbulent Cello Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, the spirited Gamba Sonata in G Minor, and the luminous Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major.  Through her interpretations of these enchanting masterworks, Hunt, 29, unveils her arresting multi-instrumental artistry and firmly establishes herself as a must-hear soloist in the world of historical performance.

From inception to release, the album's development has taken Hunt on a journey from the Berkeley Early Music Festival, to Canada's Banff Centre, to Boston, where she founded Letterbox Arts as a label for independent artists. “I wanted to sink my teeth into a project that would sustain me artistically for a serious amount of time,” Hunt explains. “After performing an all-Bach recital at the Berkeley Early Music Festival in 2012, I knew I wanted to deepen my experience with these pieces even further. I got my wish, because later that year I was invited to be an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre, where I lived and breathed this music nonstop for two months before the recording sessions.”

The album has also offered Hunt a way to go beyond the notes and explore the interconnectedness of her world. Born into a musical family, Hunt is the younger sister of the late mezzo-soprano Lorraine Hunt Lieberson, a champion of baroque music. “The whole reason I now play period instruments has to do with all these intertwined things, like growing up listening to my sister's recordings of Handel and Bach,” Hunt says, “and later being really moved by the artistry of some of my teachers who had been her colleagues.” The album is dedicated to the memory of Hunt Lieberson. “I always thought this project was the ultimate way to say thank you, by creating something that comes out of a feeling of beauty you know you’ve had before, and that other people have had too,” reflects Hunt. “And for me, playing the music of Bach is a really meaningful way to touch upon that universal thread.”

Complete Track Listing:

1 – 6. Suite No. 4 for solo cello in E-flat major – J. S. Bach

7-9. Sonata for viola da gamba and harpsichord in G minor – J. S. Bach

10-15. Suite No. 1 for solo cello in G major – J. S. Bach

For tracks 7 – 9, Hunt is joined by early keyboard specialist Ian Pritchard on harpsichord. Hunt and Pritchard began their artistic partnership in 2007 while both were in graduate school at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.

J.S. Bach Suites & Sonatas Volume One was recorded at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in San Bruno, CA. The album is now available for pre-order at www.letterboxarts.com, and will become available on iTunes and Amazon.com February 17th.

 

About the performers

SHIRLEY HUNT

Praised for her imaginative and inspired performances, American cellist and viola da gamba player Shirley Hunt performs extensively with the nation's leading period instrument ensembles and in recital as a soloist and chamber musician.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Ms. Hunt holds degrees from Northwestern University and the University of Southern California, where her principal teachers were Hans Jensen, Ronald Leonard, and Mary Springfels.  She has been an artist-in-residence at the Banff Centre for the Arts, has served as a Visiting Teaching Artist at California Institute of the Arts, and has given master classes at Cornish College of the Arts, Willamette University, and the Oakwood Academy of Creative Education.  She can be heard on the NCA, Parma, and Origin Classical labels as well as on numerous pop/rock albums and feature film soundtracks.

Ms. Hunt's current collaborative projects include Bradamante, a baroque cello duo with Canadian cellist Elinor Frey; Douglas Detrick's AnyWhen Ensemble, a chamber-jazz quintet based in Portland, Oregon; and Sonnambula, a consort of viols based in New York City.

For more information, please visit www.shirleyhunt.net

 

IAN PRITCHARD

Ian Pritchard earned his Bachelor of Music degree in harpsichord performance at Oberlin Conservatory, then moved to London in 2000 to study at the Royal Academy of Music, where he graduated with Distinction. While living in Europe he performed with groups such as Florilegium, the Academy of Ancient Music, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Orquesta Nacional de España, and the Irish Baroque Orchestra. He also appeared frequently on BBC Radio 3 and on the BBC 2 production "Vivaldi Unmasked". 

In 2001, Ian won 1st Prize in the Broadwood Harpsichord Competition and was a prizewinner in the 2003 1st International Harpsichord Competition P. Bernardi in Bologna, Italy. In the same year,  he was awarded a US Fulbright Scholarship to Italy to research early Italian keyboard music.  He is currently pursuing his PhD in Historical Musicology at USC, where he plans to write his dissertation on Italian keyboard music, notation, and performance practice in the 16th century.

Ian's first solo CD, a disc of 16th-century Venetian virginal music entitled L’arpicordo, is available on iTunes and other online stores. He is currently organist and music director at Trinity Lutheran Church, Pasadena, and is involved with Los Angeles early music groups Tesserae and Les Surprises Baroques.