VM017 Released April, 2018
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‘The music of the French baroque is not technically demanding in terms of the notes to be played, but to realise its rhythmic conventions, phrasing and subtle ornamentation requires considerable study and application. This is where the musicians recorded here — László Rózsa (recorders), Jonathan Rees (viola da gamba) and Alex McCartney (theorbo and baroque guitar) — excel: their playing is immediately engaging, and their impeccable style and careful scholarship are combined in expressive and highly nuanced performances.’
-The Consort, Andrew Mayes
‘The three artists deliver very fine performances. László Rózsa produces a beautiful tone and his performance is characterised by subtlety, for instance in his treatment of dynamics and the application of notes inégales and the flattement (finger vibrato). Jonathan Rees impresses with an intensive interpretation of De Sainte-Colombe’s suite; the opening prélude is performed in an improvisatory manner. Alex McCartney plays the suite by De Visée in an elegant and refined manner, with a clear articulation.
This disc will give every lover of baroque music much pleasure.’
‘[A] very pleasing collection of late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century works.
They begin with the delightful Suite No. 5 by Pierre Danican Philidor (1681-1731), with its tender, melancholic slow movements including a particularly beautiful Sarabande, contrasting with the more urgent quicker movements. The blend between the three instruments is perfectly judged, and in the final Gigue, Rózsa enjoys the more virtuosic, dancing lines given to the recorder.
A solo Suite by M. de Sainte-Colombe (c.1640-1700) for the viola da gamba follows, and Rees performs this stylish work with great presence and intensity… Rees’ warm tone and command of its demands are highly persuasive.
McCartney has a solo spot next, with a Suite for the theorbo by Robert de Visée (c.1655-1732/33). This has wonderful melodic lines, which McCartney articulates over the harmonies with great precision, making this a particular highlight of the disc. All three return with a Sonata by Charles Buterne (c.1710-c.1760), and its short central Italian-style Allegro allows for a great virtuosic show from Rózsa. The disc is concluded with two nightingale-inspired pieces. The birdlike ornamentation of the recorder is delicate and tender in Le rossignol-en-amour by François Couperin (1668-1733), and McCartney’s gentle introduction on the guitar to Pourquoy, doux rossignol by Jean-Baptiste de Bousset (1662-1725) sets up a beautifully bitter-sweet conclusion to this delightful collection.’
[I]ntimate, delicate and sensuous music of the often flamboyant and dramatic of the French Baroque courts from the time of Louix XIV onwards into the mid-17th-century.
The seven composers represent both the traditional French style, the Italian-influenced style, and the ultimate fusion of styles championed by the likes of François Couperin. Although the seven pieces aren’t arranged in chronological order, or in order of the Italian influence, the programme makes for a coherent whole.
Although the acoustic is probably slightly livelier than that of the chambers in which the music was originally performed, it works well. The volume of the recorder is well balanced against the supporting continuo players.
‘This is a very engaging programme, presenting mostly suites and a sonata by a number of composers including Philidor, Hotteterrre and Buterne together with shorter pieces by Couperin and de Bousset. The combination of instruments makes for great listening.’
‘’Tis going, I own, like the Knight of the Woeful Countenance in quest of melancholy adventures. But I know not how it is, but I am never so perfectly conscious of the existence of a soul within me, as when I am entangled in them.’
-Laurence Sterne: A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (London, 1768)
Recorded in St Mary’s Church, Walthamstow by Joseph Chesshyre in January 2017
Produced by Joseph Chesshyre, Alex McCartney and László Rózsa
Mastered by Joseph Chesshyre
Cover artwork by Tamara Capellaro