musica Dei donum
"The Delightful Companion - Two-part Music of the Renaissance and Baroque"
rec: July 25 - 27, 2012, Ghent, Conservatoire (Miry Concertzaal)
Aliud - ACD BE 070-2 (© 2013) (66'58")
Cover & track-list
Robert CARR (fl 1686-1696):
An Italian Ground ;
Jacob VAN EYCK (1589/90-1657):
Amarilli mia bella, met 2 ;
Engels Liedt, met 2 ;
More Palatino, met 2 ;
Philis schoon Herderinne, met 2 ;
Prins Robbert Masco, met 2 ;
Jacques Martin HOTTETERRE 'le Romain' (1674-1763):
Première suite de pièces a deux dessus, sans basse continue, op. 4;
Orlandus LASSUS (1532-1594):
Bicinium 13 ;
Bicinium 27 ;
Jean-Baptiste LOEILET 'de Gant' (1688-c1720):
Sonata in d minor (after Sonata in d minor, op. 2,3) ;
Bernardino LUPACCHINO (fl 1543-1555):
[Fantasia 13] ;
Thomas MORLEY (1557-1604):
[Fantasia 28] ;
[Fantasia 29] ;
The First ;
The Second ;
The Third ;
The Fourth ;
The Fifth ;
The Sixth ;
Gioan Maria TASSO (?-?):
Sopra la battaglia ;
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767):
Sonata in F (TWV 40,102) 
 Bernardino Lupacchino/Gioan Maria Tasso, Primo Libro a due voci, 1559;
 Pierre Phalèse/Jean Bellère (ed), Bicinia, sive cantiones, 1590;
 Thomas Morley, A Plaine and Easie Introduction to Practicall Musicke, 1597;
 Jacob van Eyck, Der Fluyten Lust-hof, I, 1644/1649;
 Paulus Matthysz (ed), 't Uitnement Kabinet, 1649;
 Robert Carr, The Delightful Companion, 1686;
 Jean-Baptiste Loeillet, Six Sonatas of Two Parts Fitted and Contriv'd for Two Flutes, 1716/20;
 Georg Philipp Telemann, Sonates sans Basse, à deux Flutes traverses, ou à deux Violons, ou à deux Flutes à bec, 1727
Jan Devlieger, Marcel Ketels, recorder
The recorder was one of the most popular instruments in the 16th and 17th centuries. Whereas in various countries it was gradually overshadowed by the transverse flute in the early decades of the 18th century, it remained popular in England, and across Europe among amateurs. This explains that many collections of music for the recorder were printed, and that even in the 18th century the recorder was often suggested as an alternative in editions of music for the transverse flute or the violin. This disc offers music for two recorders, either specifically written for this combination or for instruments of the same family in general.
The programme opens with a piece which is not written for two equal instruments, but rather for a treble instrument - in this case there can be little doubt that it was the recorder - and basso continuo. The bass part is performed here on the bass recorder. The latter is also used in one of the bicinia by Lassus and in one by Morley. In those cases the two parts are treated on equal terms - the time of the composers was well before the introduction of the basso continuo. The pieces by Lassus can be played on other instruments as well. Some of them were performed on two viole da gamba at a recent disc by the Egidius Kwartet & College. One may assume that the pieces by Morley can also be played on several kinds of instruments, and as recorder and viola da gamba enjoyed the same amount of popularity in England these seem to be the most likely choices.
Jacob van Eyck has become famous for his recorder pieces, the only genre to which he - himself a brilliant player - contributed. His collection Der Fluyten Lust-hof includes almost exclusively pieces for recorder solo, many of them variations on well-known sacred and secular tunes. Only five pieces are for two recorders, indicated with met 2 (for two), all recorded here. The titles refer to songs which were also arranged by other composers. The two fantasias are from the collection 't Uitnement Kabinet, a collection of pieces which were popular among amateurs and were often played at home, in social gatherings and by collegia musica. Although not exclusively for the recorder, most of the pieces are playable at this instrument, which was just as popular as it was in England. The composers are often not known.
With the second half of this disc we move to the early 18th century. Jean-Baptiste Loeillet was a member of a musical dynasty from the southern Netherlands. One of the Loeillet's settled in London, the composer represented here was born in Ghent and called himself 'Loeillet de Gant'. He published four collections of sonatas for recorder and basso continuo which were printed between around 1710 and 1716. They were published in Amsterdam and later reprinted by Walsh and Hare in London. Six sonatas from these four sets were printed in arrangements for two recorders without basso continuo, and one of them is the Sonata in d minor played here.
Jacques Martin Hotteterre, nicknamed 'le Romain', was a member of an even larger dynasty of musicians, composers and makers of woodwind instruments. They played a crucial role in French music life from the mid-17th to the end of the 18th century. Jacques-Martin was the most famous and most prolific composer of them all. He was an advocate of the modern transverse flute, but as amateurs were still looking for music which could be played on the recorder it is mentioned on the title pages of most of his collections of sonatas, suites or pièces as an alternative to the flute. The suite played here is from the op. 4 which was published in 1712; these suites can also be played on flutes, viole da gambas 'and other instruments'.
Germany was one of the countries where the transverse flute gradually overshadowed the recorder in the first decades of the 18th century. Although Johann Sebastian Bach is generally considered a conservative composer, he wrote relatively little for the recorder, and composed no solo pieces for it. It is ironic that Telemann, generally speaking the more 'modern' of the two, wrote much more for the recorder, and gave it a prominent place in overtures and solo concertos. As he was especially interested in composing for amateurs he produced a considerable number of chamber music pieces for recorder or with a part for this instrument alongside others. The Sonata in F is from a collection printed in 1727. The booklet gives its title as Sonates sans Basse à deux Flûtes à bec, suggesting that they were specifically written for recorders. That is not the case: the title page mentions transverse flutes and violins as equivalent options, only then - in a smaller print - recorders. It bears witness to Telemann's practical mind: he wanted to make his music playable for as many amateurs as possible.
I don't know how much repertoire for two treble instruments was written during the 17th and 18th centuries. Fact is that there are not that many discs devoted to such pieces, and that makes this disc most welcome. Fortunately that is not the only reason: the playing is such that it can be recommended unequivocally. The performances are of the highest standard, technically and as the interpretation is concerned. The ensemble is impeccable and the intonation - not so easy with two recorders - is outstanding. This is a fine disc - a delightful companion indeed.
Johan van Veen (© 2014)