Pierre Danican Philidor is one of the lesser-known
musicians of the famous Philidor family. A wind player, like most of
his extensive clan, he composed suites for flute and continuo, two flutes
and continuo, and flute duets. A member of Couperinís Concerts Royaux,
his music is almost purely French, with little foreign influence. Very
little of it has been recorded, and this disc attempts a cross-section.
The three suites on this disc are trios for two flutes
and continuo. Written for Hyacinthe Rigaud, the preferred painter of
Louis XIV, the Sun King, these are very typical of the period, being
a series of dance music episodes with a variety of rhythms. The tone
is one of peaceful, relaxed pleasure music, with none of the elaborate
ornamentation of François Couperin, and no attempt to break new
Unfortunately, the disc loses interest since it contains
more than just music. Since there are only about 40 minutes of music,
Stéphan Perreau thought it interesting to include two spoken
segments, reading texts about Rigaud, or excerpts from the Ďmémoiresí
of Saint-Simon - pure filler that adds nothing to the music. Firstly,
these texts are not extremely interesting, and there is little value
in recording them. Second, they are spoken with such an unprofessional
tone that, even if you do understand French, you will quickly skip over
them. Perreau may be a musician, but, when recording spoken texts, it
is better to use an actor who knows how to use words.
Add to that the totally unreadable notes - partly because
of the small, grayish characters, and partly because of one of the most
unreadable italic fonts I have ever seen, and all this goes over my
head. More thought to the readers would give these notes - a fictional
discussion about the Philidors - some value, but, as it is, a magnifying
glass would be necessary to read more than a few lines.
While this music is attractive, it satiates but does
not inspire. Its ambience is certainly agreeable, but is truly nothing
special. While the performers certainly give them utmost, this is a
disc that does little more than entertain.