One of the most grown-up review sites around
One of the most grown-up review sites around

Search MusicWeb Here


International mailing

Up to 40% off

  Founder: Len Mullenger


Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Brahms Symphony 3
Dvorak Symphony 8
9 cello sonatas
Piano Music

Clara Schumann
piano concerto

Asmik Grigorian

Breathtaking Performance
controversial staging
Review Westbrook
Review Hedley n/a
Every lover of Salome should see this recording
Mullenger interpretation

Vraiment magnifique!

Quite splendid

Winning performances

Mahler Symphony 8
a magnificent disc

a huge talent

A wonderful disc

Weinberg Symphonies 2 & 21
A handsome tribute!

Roth’s finest Mahler yet

Mahler 9 Blomstedt
Distinguished performance


Buy through MusicWeb from £10 postage paid.
You may prefer to pay by Sterling cheque or Euro notes to avoid PayPal. Contact for details

Musicweb Purchase button

Michel de la BARRE (1675–1745)
Music for Louis XV – Ten Suites for two flutes
[7e Livre, 1721]
10e Suite in d minor [05:36]
11e Suite in G [06:32]
[9e Livre, 1722]
1er Sonate in B flat [06:35]
2e Sonate in G [06:11]
[10e Livre, 1722]
16e [Suite] in F [07:09]
17e [Suite] in C [05:14]
[11e Livre, 1724]
18e Suite in g minor [06:44]
19e Suite in B flat [07:53]
[12e Livre, 1725]
20e Suite in b minor [08:28]
21e Suite in D [05:55]
John Solum, Richard Wyton (transverse flute)
rec. August 2006, parish hall, St Matthew's Church, Bedford, N.Y., USA. DDD
MSR CLASSICS MS 1191 [66:23]

Michel de La Barre is one of the lesser-known composers who was connected to the royal court in Paris in the first decades of the 18th century. Lesser-known to us, I mean, because in his time he was a celebrated performer and composer of music, mainly for the transverse flute. He was probably born in 1675 and published his first collection of music in 1694, a set of six suites for two melody instruments and bc. In 1702 this was followed by a set of suites for transverse flute and bc. This set is particularly interesting in that La Barre explores the possibilities of the one-keyed conical flute.
In the programme notes John Solum explains this. "About the time of La Barre's birth, the transverse flute underwent two important changes. Before then, the flute had a cylindrical bore and had no keys (levers) to close holes beyond the reach of the fingers. However, around 1670 flute-makers in France as well in the Netherlands added a key, thus enabling the flute for the first time to play every note of the chromatic scale. At the same time the interior bore was redesigned from a cylindrical shape to conical (tapering from the head to the foot of the flute), thus increasing tonal power and improving intonation. This flute we now call the Baroque flute".
La Barre had played in Louis XIV's Académie Royale de Musique and later became a member of the Chambre du Roy. The main part of his output consists of duets for two transverse flutes. In total he composed nineteen of those duets, and the last ten he published are recorded here. They all consist of four movements, both free forms like prélude and rondeau and dances like allemande and gigue. Considering the fashion of the time it is surprising that only one of the suites on this disc contains a character piece: La Badine (11th Suite in G).
As much as I like the music I am a little disappointed by this recording. First of all, it wasn't the wisest course to record only music for two flutes. As a result I'm afraid only flute aficionados are going to buy this disc. It would have been much more attractive for a wider audience if these pieces had been interspersed with compositions for one or two flutes with basso continuo. Secondly I find the interpretations too uniform. The first item on this disc contains three movements with the characterisation 'légèrement', which means 'light' or 'light-hearted', but I feel the playing is too robust. In fact too many movements sound more or less the same and after a while it starts to get a little tiresome, especially as the pauses between the suites are rather short. Listeners are well advised to consume this disc in bits and pieces and not listen to the whole thing at a stretch.
La Barre was known for his expressive playing, and one may expect this to be reflected in his compositions as well. But in this performance there is just too little sensitivity, reflected in a lack of variety in articulation and dynamics. Even a movement like the sarabande of the 11th Suite is not played piano.
The microphones must have been very close to the players: the technique of the players blowing air into their flutes is clearly audible. It isn't very pleasant to listen to for more than one hour.
In short: this is a missed opportunity to show the qualities of La Barre's duets for two flutes. Better programming and more sensitivity would have produced a more favourable outcome.
Johan van Veen


We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels

Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger


Return to Review Index

Untitled Document

Reviews from previous months
Join the mailing list and receive a hyperlinked weekly update on the discs reviewed. details
We welcome feedback on our reviews. Please use the Bulletin Board
Please paste in the first line of your comments the URL of the review to which you refer.