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Antonio VIVALDI (1678 – 1741)
Six Concertos for Recorder
Flute Concerto in C minor RV 441
La Tempesta di mare RV 433
Flute Concerto in A minor RV 440
Il Gardellino RV 428
Flute Concerto in A minor, RV 108
La Notte RV 439
Largo from the Flute Concerto in D minor, RV 565
La Simphonie du Marais/Hugo Reyne (recorder, director)
rec. Church of Our Lady of the Assumption, Vendée, September 2010
MUSIQUES À LA CHABOTTERIE 605012 [60:00]

I’m sure I’m projecting, but if you, too, should be hesitant upon reading “flute concertos” on the outside of a CD, let me assuage you. While the flute is surely the most annoying instrument - maybe second to the harp - and a tool of the devil’s devising from which only exceptional masters can milk universal joy (Marina Piccinini comes to mind), this isn’t actually a CD of all-Vivaldi flute concertos. Not even for traverso flute, its baroque predecessor, but of “Concertos pour flûte” – which is to say for recorder. I’m not sure that makes it better, on paper, except that the timbre of the recorder - or the wooden traverse flute - is actually much kinder on the ears. Far from being the introductory instrument of our musically mangled childhood, it’s a bona fide virtuoso instrument in the hands of its masters such as Stefan Temmingh or, in this case, Hugo Reyne.

If you are still with me, let’s get the only quibble out of the way: The English notes of this CD might have been translated from the Chinese, for all their battering of P.G. Wodehouse’s language. Their origin however, is French, this being an all-Gallic production of the obscure, Festival-instigated “Musiques à la Chabotterie” label that captures the musical goings-on at said early music festival in the Vendée region.

La Simphonie du Marais and their flute- and oboe-playing director Hugo Reyne are the in-house band at that festival and if you are into French baroque, you might have stumbled across them before. I, for one, was recently much delighted by Harmonia Mundi’s re-issuing of his set of DeLalande’s “Symphonies Pour Les Soupers Du Roy”. Good stuff, that, and so are these six concertos for the recorder, one after another being taken with panache and technical excellence and a dash of pleasantry. Suddenly a double-take: Where are the sea-sounds coming from? It’s coming from the speakers, where pinched strings and squeaky recorders imitate seagulls eerily well. Double basses toot like early steamers and creak like masts bending, unwillingly, in the wind. “La Tempesta di mare”, says a voice, and solves the brief befuddlement: it was a musical chapter title and it makes you wonder what the group has in store for the other titled concertos on the disc. Not much, actually… the “Goldfinch” (RV 428) gets a short, presumably finchy flute-swirl, and “La Notte” (RV 439) nothing at all.

The bonus track is the Largo from RV 365 which, in Bach’s hands, became the “Sicilienne” BWV 596 as might in turn be known as the opening track from the sublime "Concertos Italiens" album from Alexandre Tharaud. Either in the Saxon treatment or the Italian original, it’s one of the most beautiful melodic moments in baroque music.

Reyne, a mean recorder player despite all his conducting duties, plays on different recorders for each of the concertos (pitched at 415 Hz), and his reminiscences and descriptions of the concertos and instruments – these being more adequately translated – add considerably to the disc.

Jens F. Laurson

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