Viola da gamba
Bass by Edward Lewis
Viola da gamba Edward Lewis, London, 1687
Acknowledged to be one of the finest of the English masters, Lewis very obviously made this viol for an aristocratic patron, judging from the richness of the floral and geometrical ornamentation of the top and back and the finely wrought open scroll. The sound of his instruments is extremely rich, which may be the reason why the French were keen to buy them, later modifying them with the seventh string.
In his book The Violin Family and its Makers in the British Isles (Oxford: 1995), Brian W. Harvey addresses Lewis' importance: “Lewis is one of a group of distinguished English makers the absence of whose better work from any museum in Britain is a national tragedy".
This lovely bass viol has many fans among the musicians of Orpheon; Margit Meckel, from Vienna, Austria, is most definitely one of them! She frequently performs on this instrument in the English programs, although for the solos in the Passions by Bach she prefers the viol by Joachim Tielke, also in the collection. Here in a performance in Gijón, Spain, August of 2005. On the organ, Vit Bebar, from the Czech Republic, our regular basso continuo player.
Body length 715 mm Upper width 332 mm Middle width 245 mm Lower width 408 mm Rib height 131 mm String length 720 mm