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French Music of the 18th Century
Marin MARAIS (1656-1728)

Sonnerie de Sainte Geneviève du Mont de Paris *
Sonate à la Marésienne **

Charles DIEUPART (died about 1740)

Suitte in F major **

François COUPERIN (1668-1733)

Neuvième Concert Intitulé Ritratto dell' Amore *

Jacques Hotteterre LE ROMAIN (ca. 1680-1761)

Suitte in e minor **
Marijke Miessen, recorder
Anner Bylsma, violoncello piccolo *
Pieter Wispelwey, violoncello **
Bob van Asperen, harpsichord
Rec: September 1989, Nederlands Hervormde Kerk, Bennebroek, Netherlands. Remastered 2001.
TEKNON TK 11-250 [66.36]

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 delightfully interpreted.

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.

Kirk McElhearn

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