Teknon is a new, independent Dutch label specializing
in early music. This first release, featuring a quartet of some of the
best musicians active in this type of music, is dedicated to French
music by four composers of the 18th century. All five works are for
recorder and continuo, with the cello part being played by Anner Bylsma
on two of the works, and Pieter Wispelwey on the other three.
Individually, each of these musicians is well-known
for both solo and ensemble work, but, together on one CD, they are a
sort of dream team of early music. While the performance is not entirely
authentic - this music would be more appropriately served by viols,
rather than cellos, and it was not written for recorder - this recording
features a truly 18th century sound. The balance of the different instruments
is perfect, and one can sense the joy these musicians must have felt
during the recording sessions.
The disc is framed by two works by Marin Marais, one
of the most original composers of the time. The opening work, Sonnerie
de Sainte Geneviève du Mont de Paris, is meant to sound like
the bells from the church of Sainte Geneviève du Mont in Paris.
It is a delightfully hypnotic chaconne-style work, where the joyous
rhythm is maintained with unique tension by the obsessive bass line
(basically just three descending notes, which is then elaborated) throughout
the piece. The final work on this disc, the Sonate à la Marésienne,
is a more traditional sonata for violin and continuo, the violin part
here played by the recorder. This four-movement suite (actually more
than four movements; two of the movements are broken down into shorter
sections), contains some of Maraisís most beautiful melodies, and is
The Suite in F major by Dieupart, apparently written
for violin and continuo, and played here on recorder and continuo, is
a seven-movement suite in the formal French style, with the usual movements
- allemande, sarabande, gigue, etc. It is a brief work, with almost
all of the movements less than two minutes long. Not only are they short,
but they sound very concentrated, with sprightly rhythms and a lively
sound from the musicians.
The Neuvième Concert Intitulé Ritratto
dell'Amore, is very typical of Couperinís suites, with its dainty dance
rhythms and extensive ornamentation. Again, not written for recorder,
this instrument nevertheless fits the music quite well, especially in
a movement such as that marked Le Je-ne-scay-quoy (gayement), where
the tone of the recorder as it plays doubled with the high notes of
the cello is delightfully ethereal.
The Hotteterre suite, originally written for transverse
flute, is another typically French suite, with a slow then fast prelude,
allowing the wind instrument to dialogue with the cello, here, as in
the Couperin, playing very high notes. This is more a trio-sonata than
a simple continuo, giving Peter Wispelwey a chance to show off the beautiful
sound of his instrument, and Bob van Asperen to have more presence than
in some of the other pieces.
The sound of this recording is a delight, with a perfect
marriage of the instruments, performed by some of the best musicians
for this repertory. This disc will commend itself to lovers of this
period of French music. One must hope that this new, small label continues
with the same quality in the future.