It’s nothing less than a survey of 1000 years of Western musical tradition. The violist with his long-time musical associate, cellist Agnes Vesterman, goes back to his folk roots with traditional airs and dances, moves forward through a hymn by Hildegard von Bingen, into the medieval period with music by Machaut, on through John Dowland’s Flow My Tears and Purcell’s Music For A While; into the Baroque with a sizzling Vivaldi concerto actually written for the viola d’amore, and bang up to date with an atmospheric two-part piece for viola and electronics, written for Knox by leading Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.
It’s a gobsmacking disc, and Knox’s playing throughout, in a very un-showy way, is out of this world: he includes one of his own compositions, entitled Fuga Libre, where his strength, power and technical prowess are mind-boggling.
Michael Tumelty, The Herald
Wenn sich der ehemalige Bratschist des Arditti-Quartetts mittelalterlichen Weisen widmet, Traditionals ausformuliert, um ihre tänzerischen Melodien zum Klingen zu bringen, dann ist das besondere Aufmerksamkeit wert. Garth Knox macht keine Spaßmusik – im Gegenteil: Er gibt der Musik ihren eingeschriebenen Ernst zurück und bewahrt trotzdem ihre Leichtigkeit. In der Tat beschenkt uns der irische Bratschist auf ‘Saltarello’ mit einem bunten Reigen, der rund 1000 Jahre Musikgeschichte schlaglichtartig beleuchtet.
Tilman Urbach, Fono Forum
The repertory swirls across the centuries: eloquent, pared down arrangements of Dowland and Purcell songs for viola d'amore and cello, and a complete Vivaldi concerto reduced to its bare outline rub shoulders with vigorous folk dances and a flowing transition from Hildegard of Bingen to Machaut 200 years later, all unified by Knox's clear-sighted vision and superb, earthy playing.
Nicholas Kenyon, The Observer
‘Saltarello’ is every bit as inventive and beautiful as its predecessor , ‘D’amore’ (9/08), rendering time and geographical space irrelevant in its jumping – the word ‘saltarello’ derives from the Italian for’to jump’ – from place to place and piece to piece. The repertoire moves with sublime elegance from Irish folk music to the German and French Middle Ages, the English and Italian Baroque and thence, in the figures of Saariaho and Knox himself, to the present.
Bringing all this music seamlessly together are the remarkable sonic possibilities offered by the combination of cello and viola or viola d’amore. A fiddle and electronics are added for good measure but it’s the massive range and depth of beauty of just these two instruments playing together that is at the heart of the recording.
Ivan Moody, Gramophone
The sheer beauty and variety of the sounds here have won me round many times over. There are numerous wonderful moments on a disc where all the music has a feel of being pared back to essentials.
Catherine Nelson, The Strad
Tout le programme est splendide, allant de Hildegard von Bingen (XII siècle) à Kaija Saariaho (née en 1952), en passant par Purcell, Dowland et des anonymes. C’est de la pensèe pure, du son pur. Autrement dit de la vraie musique.
J.Dr., Le Nouvel Observateur