Widely admired as a virtuoso exponent of the viola da gamba through his concert performances and recordings of key composers from Germany, France, Spain, England and his native Italy, Paolo Pandolfo has in recent years been developing the instincts and skills for improvising and composing. He began his research in the field of renaissance and baroque musical idioms around 1979 along with violinist Enrico Gatti and harpsichordist Rinaldo Alessandrini. Studies with Jordi Savall at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Switzerland were followed by membership of Savall’s Hespèrion XX between 1982 and 1990. A highly successful recording of the CPE Bach Sonatas for viola da gamba (on Tactus) in 1990 saw Pandolfo nominated as Professor of viola da gamba at his alma mater, the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, where he has been concentrating his teaching activities ever since.
Since 1997 all of Paolo Pandolfo’s recordings have appeared on Glossa. The odyssey commenced with the first complete recording of Antoine Forqueray’s Pièces de Viole, followed by discs devoted to the music of Tobias Hume, Marin Marais (Le Labyrinthe et autres histoires was devoted to character music whilst Grand Ballet focused on Marais’ gestures and dance music) and Sainte-Colombe. Pandolfo has regularly ventured beyond the realms of Renaissance and Baroque notated music for his instrument; he achieved a notable success with his own transcription of the six Bach Solo Suites and recorded an unaccompanied recital, A Solo. Travel Notes and Improvisando have further demonstrated Pandolfo’s command of the possibilities of the viola da gamba as a composer himself.
His performing activities have taken him all over the world, playing with artists such as Emma Kirkby, Rolf Lislevand, Rinaldo Alessandrini, Mitzi Meyerson, José Miguel Moreno and many others. He has been described as the Yo Yo Ma of the viol. Since 1992 he has been directing Labyrinto, a group of four or five viola da gambas, which is dedicated to the huge consort music repertoire.
Paolo Pandolfo builds bridges between the past and the present, bringing spontaneous and immediate life in the performance of baroque and renaissance music using medias such as improvisation, transcriptions and composition of modern pieces, being convinced that the patrimony of ancient music can be a powerful inspiration for the future of the western musical tradition.