Niel Gow: Lament – Voices of Music, Hanneke van Proosdij, David Tayler, Laura Risk, Alana Youssefian, Peter Maund

Niel Gow’s Lament for the Death of His Second Wife, performed by Laura Risk as part of the Voices of Music “Musical Crossroads” concert, January, 2019. One of Niel Gow’s finest compositions. This performance echoes the portrait of Niel and his brother, Donald, by David Allan which is in the National Gallery in Scotland (go visit!).

In this painting, Niel is accompanied by his brother on the cello. Both players are using short bows of the earlier type, the violin rests on on the shoulder with no chin rest, and the cello is supported by the legs with no endpin. Both the cello and the violin are in 18th century setup which produces a more transparent sound; note the short fingerboards on both instruments.

The first time ’round, the musicians play the tune with just cello and violin, as it is in the painting, on the return the full ensemble improvises an accompaniment. Because of the improvisation, each performance is unique. Note that Niel’s portraits show a unique chin placement on the opposite bout of the fiddle–we did not try that one for the video 🙂

The painting at the National Gallery:

Voices of Music Hanneke van Proosdij and David Tayler, directors Laura Risk, baroque violin Alana Youssefian, baroque violin Peter Maund, frame drum Hanneke van Proosdij, harpsichord David Tayler, archlute Niel Gow’s second wife, to whom the lament is dedicated, was Margaret Urquhart of Perth; they were married for more than thirty years.

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