“When [Franz] Benda plays an Adagio, one has the impression that eternal wisdom is speaking down to us from heaven.” Thus the description, written in 1798, by violinist Johann Peter Salomon – a pupil of Benda’s and good friend of both Joseph Haydn and Beethoven – of the playing of the 'magician', the 'great genius'. His interpretation was in a singing, unpretentious, and obviously very touching style, whereby, in accordance with the custom of the time, he always richly ornamented the violin part.
The works on this recording were selected from a unique manuscript collection preserved in the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. What makes it a rarity are the written-out ornaments, for all of the movements, are complemented by one or, in some cases two, ornamented versions on separate staves. Even if this Berlin manuscript does not stem from Benda’s own hand, there is much to indicate that it is a very careful and, in terms of ornamentation technique, authentic version.
For this new release in Glossa’s Schola Cantorum Basiliensis series, the Swiss violinist Leila Schayegh (the successor, together with Amandine Beyer, of Chiara Banchini at the SCB) and her continuo partners Václav Luks and Felix Knecht recover a selection of Benda’s beautiful, ornamented sonatas, including some of those legendary Adagios mentioned by Salomon…
“Leila Schayegh plays her Guarneri violin (Cremona, 1675) with an astounding mastery over technical execution that never eclipses sincere feeling. Continuo support from Felix Knecht and Vaclav Luks is alert or thoughtful according to the demands of the musical mood” Gramophone Magazine, May 2012