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A French Soirée Jean-Baptiste LULLY(1632-1687) Flore, ballet (LWV 40):
Entrée pour Vertumne [1:01]
Entrée pour les Jardiniers et quatre Galants [0:51]
Entrée pour les Galants et les Dames [1:16]
Menuet pour les mêmes [1:02] François COUPERIN(1668-1733) Les Goûts-Réunis, Concerto No. 7 in g minor:
Allemande [2:49] Sarabande [3:44] Marin MARAIS(1656-1728) Pièces de viole, 3e livre: La Guitare [6:32] François COUPERIN Les Goûts-Réunis, Concerto No. 7 in g minor:
Sicilienne [2:32] Gavotte [1:18] Marin MARAIS Pièces de viole, 1er livre: Prélude [1:38]
Chaconne [6:18] François COUPERIN
Concerts Royaux: Concerto No. 3 in A [16:04] Jean-Fery REBEL(1666-1747)
Sonata for violin and bc in d, op. 2,8 [6:43] Jean-Philippe RAMEAU(1683-1764)
Pièces de clavecin en concert, 4e Concert in B flat [10:22]
Sonata for violin and bc in G, op. 5,12 [16:15]
Trio Settecento (Rachel Barton Pine (violin), John Mark Rozendaal
(viola da gamba), David Schrader (harpsichord))
rec. 10-14 August 2010, Nichols Concert Hall, Music Institute of
Chicago, Evanston, Ill., USA. DDD
CEDILLE CDR 90000 129 [78:55]
If you read the booklet of this disc you might get the impression
that the artists think that the listener is largely unfamiliar
with French baroque music. In a personal note Rachel Barton
Pine describes how much effort it took to get used to the low
pitch which is needed in this repertoire. She also explains
why French music is so sporadically played on modern instruments.
One wonders how many musicians and ensembles are still playing
baroque music on modern instruments. She states that listening
to French baroque music is like "stepping into a fantasy world
of elegance and opulence". I suspect many listeners dwell regularly
in that world, and this disc has nothing really new in store
for them. Maybe this disc is first and foremost aimed at the
American market and the situation is a bit different there than,
for instance, in Europe. Over the last decade or so many discs
of French baroque music have been released. There’s hardly
a need to introduce the listener to the world of Lully, Couperin
So, there’s nothing really new here. As far as I can see
all the pieces on the programme have been recorded before. That
in itself shouldn't prevent artists like the members of the
Trio Settecento to record them. Even so, I would have liked
to see more adventurous programming. The Pièces de
clavecin en concert by Rameau are available in a number
of recordings, and so are the concertos by Couperin. The least-known
music could be the movements from the ballet Flore by
Lully. Unfortunately they get the least satisfying performance,
as they are scored for orchestra. This pocket-sized performance
hardly does justice to the grandeur of Lully's ballet music.
After all, as John Mark Rozendaal writes in his liner-notes,
Louis XIV himself took part in the performance as a dancer.
The four dances from Lully's ballet open the Divertissement
which comes first on the disc. These are followed by pieces
by Couperin and Marais, excerpts from larger works which are
quite well known. Whether you like Ms Pine’s tone is a
matter of taste, but the playing seems rigid and straightforward
to my ears. I would have liked a more differentiated approach,
with dynamic accents and a stronger distinction between the
notes. That way the dance rhythms would have come off better.
The sonatas by Rebel and Leclair are by far the most interesting
parts of this disc. They show the effects of the growth of the
Italian style on violin composition in France. Both sonatas
include multiple-stopping which is very rare in older French
violin music. The Italian influence also leads to dramatic traits.
These are effectively realised by the Trio Settecento. Particularly
nice is the tremolo in the second movement of Leclair's sonata.
Here again I would have liked the music to breathe more. In
the corrente from Rebel's sonata, for instance, the space between
phrases is hardly sufficient. It just goes on and on relentlessly.
In the baroque era music was compared with speech and performances
such as this make you lose your breath.
There can be no doubt about the good intentions and the enthusiasm
of the performers, nor about their great technical skills. That
said, this music needs a more relaxed and imaginative approach.
The notes by Rozendaal are informative, but the documentation
is poor: the pieces by Couperin and Marais in the Divertissement
and the sonatas by Rebel and Leclair are not identified. I have
added the necessary information by using various sites on the
Johan van Veen
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