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CD reviews

"Sonates & Suites"

Dan Laurin, recorder; Domen Marincic, cello; Anna Paradiso, harpsichord

rec: March 2015, Stocksund, Petruskyrkan
BIS - 2185 (© 2016) (85'25")
Liner-notes: E/D/F
Cover, track-list & booklet

Michel BLAVET (1700-1768): Sonata in b minor, op. 3,2 [8]; Nicolas CHÉDEVILLE (1705-1782): Sonata VI in g minor [7]; André CHÉRON (1695-1766): Sonate III in e minor [6]; Charles DIEUPART (after 1667-c1740): Suite No. 1 in A [1]; Jacques-Martin HOTTETERRE (1674-1763): 3e Suite in D [4]; Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697-1764): Sonata in b minor, op. 2,11 [5]; Marin MARAIS (1656-1728): Couplets de Folies (Les Folies d'Espagne) [2]; Anne Danican PHILIDOR (1681-1728): Sonate pour la flute à bec in d minor [3]

Sources: [1] Charles [François] Dieupart, Six Suittes de Clavessin ... pour un Violon & flûte avec une Basse de Viole & un Archilut, 1701; [2] Marin Marais, Pièces de viole, Livre II, 1701; [3] Anne Danican Philidor, Ier Livre des Pièces pour la Flute Traversiere, Flute a Bec, Violons et Haut-Bois avec la Baße continüe, 1712; [4] Jacques-Martin Hotteterre, Deuxième Livre de Pieces pour la Flûte-Traversiere et autres Instruments, avec la Basse, 1715; [5] Jean-Marie Leclair, Second Livre de Sonates pour le Violon et pour la Flute Traversiere avec la Basse Continue, 1728; [6] André Chéron, Sonates en duo et en trio pour la flute traversiere et le violon avec la basse continue, op. 2, 1729; [7] Nicolas Chédeville, Il Pastor Fido, Sonates pour la Musette, Viele, Flûte, Hautbois, Violon, avec la Basse Continüe, [op. 13], 1737; [8] Michel Blavet, Troisieme Livre de Sonates pour la Flûte traversiere, avec la Basse, 1740

The increasing interest in domestic music making, especially among amateurs, is one of the main developments in musical life across Europe after 1700. This explains the many collections with suites and sonatas to be played on whatever instruments were at hand. A large part of Telemann's chamber music was composed for such amateurs and the same goes for the many editions which came from the press in Paris. The title pages often refer to a variety of instruments on which the suites and sonatas can be played. The present disc offers some specimens of what was written in the first half of the 18th century.

One of the features of French culture of the 17th century was a strong amount of restraint. A public display of emotions was not appreciated and this explains why French music was not very theatrical. That was in strong contrast to the Italian music of that time and one of the reasons that the French didn't like it. However, there were several composers who had a more positive attitude towards the Italian style, such as Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Sébastien Brossard and François Couperin. The latter composed his first music in which he incorporated some Italian influences under a pseudonym. After the turn of the century the musical climate started to change. The increased interest in Italian music went along with a slackening of the stranglehold of the court on the music scene. One of the symbols of this was the foundation of the Concert Spirituel, a public series of concerts which started in 1725 and lasted until the French Revolution. A wide variety of music was performed during these concerts, including genuine Italian music. One of the most popular composers was Vivaldi whose Four Seasons were performed various times.

This explains why Nicolas Chédeville published a collection of six sonatas from his own pen under Vivaldi's name, as Il Pastor Fido. The last sonata from this set opens the programme and sets the tone. Every piece that follows bears witness to the influence of Italian music. Jacques-Martin Hotteterre was a member of a dynasty of woodwind instrument makers, players and composers who were closely associated with the court from the mid-17th century until the Revolution. From 1698 to 1700 Jean-Martin stayed in Rome, and from then onwards he added le Romain to his name. Here the foundation of his interest in Italian music was laid. It was reflected in his music library, which included sonatas by Corelli and Mascitti. The 3e Suite has sonate as its subtitle and includes a grave which has no connection to a dance. In his liner-notes Dan Laurin also mentions the wide leaps in the melody part in the courante which reflect the Italian style.

Another composer who was under Italian influence was Jean-Marie Leclair, who went to Turin to study with Giovanni Battista Somis. His sonatas are almost exclusively written for the violin and many are too idiomatic to be played on other instruments. Among his four books of sonatas the second is the only one whose title page mentions the transverse flute as an alternative. In most cases that also allows a performance on the recorder; in all but two items in the programme Laurin plays the voice flute.

The alto recorder is played in two items: the sonata by Chédeville and the Sonate pour la flute à bec by Anne Danican Philidor. Like Hotteterre he was a member of a dynasty of musicians, also closely associated with the court for more than a century since Michel Danican served Louis XIII as an oboist. Anne Danican played the oboe and the violin and acted as royal music librarian. The sonata recorded here is from a collection of sonatas for various instruments. It is notable that this particular sonata has the indication that it is intended for the recorder. Laurin mentions that it is the only French composition of the time for the alto recorder.

Charles (or François) Dieupart made a career in England. He published a set of suites for harpsichord which were also published in a version for a melody instrument and bc. It represents the most French piece of the programme and comprises six dance movements, preceded by an overture in the characteristic ABA form. Marais is also generally considered as a model of the French style. However, his music for the viola da gamba unmistakably shows some Italian traits. The Couplets de Folies - variations on the famous dance folia or, in French, folies d'Espagne - is taken from the second book. Laurin has arranged them for recorder solo. Such arrangements were quite common at the time. In the preface of his third book Marais himself suggests performances on other instruments, among them flute, recorder and oboe and even harpsichord, organ or guitar. Omitting a basso continuo can also be justified; at least his first pieces - published in the first book - seem originally to have been intended for viola da gamba without any accompaniment; only later he added a basso continuo part.

Many composers at the time played various instruments, for instance recorder and flute or oboe. Michel Blavet was one of the first who exclusively played the flute and his compositions are specifically intended for this instrument. That does not mean that they can't be played on the recorder. The flute was the more fashionable of the two but one may assume that, especially among amateurs, the recorder was still quite popular. Blavet was one of the great virtuosos of his time and participated in the performance of Telemann's Paris Quartets during the latter's visit to Paris in 1737/38.

The disc ends with the least-known composer in the programme: André Chéron. He was from a family of instrument makers and was educated as a keyboard player. In this capacity he often performed at the Concert Spirituel. He was the teacher of Leclair who dedicated his violin concertos op. 7 to him. His Sonate III ends with a long chaconne - taking here a little over eight minutes - which was an indispensable part of French music of the 17th and early 18th centuries. Although this sonata is quite modern the chaconne connects it to a glorious tradition which came to an end towards the mid-18th century.

The increasingly theatrical style of French chamber music - under the influence of the Italian style - is reflected by the way Dan Laurin plays this interesting programme. His playing is full of contrasts, in mood, tempo and dynamics. The recorder has a limited dynamic range but Laurin explores it to the full. These are strongly gestural and dramatic interpretations in which Laurin receives excellent support from Domen Marincic and Anna Paradiso. This is not just another disc with recorder music. Because of the programme and the performances it is a substantial addition to the discography. The more than generous playing time is another good argument in its favour.

Johan van Veen (© 2016)

Relevant links:

Dan Laurin
Anna Paradiso

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