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Jacques-Martin HOTTETERRRE 'le Romain' (1673 - 1763): "Complete Trio Sonatas op. 3"

Les Eléments

rec: August 24 - 26 & Nov 12, 2012, Polizzi Generosa (Palermo), Chiesa di San Pancrazio
Brilliant Classics - 94761 (© 2014) (63'23")
Liner-notes: E
Cover & track-list
Scores d'Anglebert; Scores Hotteterre

Jean-Henry D'ANGLEBERT (1629-1691)a: Air d'Apollon du Triomphe de l'Amour; Chaconne de Galatée; Chaconne de Phaëton; Ouverture de Cadmus; Passacaille d'Armide; Jacques-Martin HOTTETERREb: Sonate Ire in g minor; Sonate IIe in D; Sonate IIIe in b minor; Sonate IVe in e minor; Sonate Ve in A; Sonate VIe in G

Jean-Henry d'Anglebert, Pièces de clavecin, 1689; Jacques-Martin Hotteterre, Sonates en trio pour les flûtes traversieres, flûtes a bec, violons, hautbois, &c., Livre Premier, op. 3, 1712

Piero Cartosio, Natalia Bonello, transverse fluteb; Roberto De Santis, viola da gambab; Gian Luca Lastraioli, theorbo, guitarb; Basilio Timpanaro, harpsichordab

Jacques-Martin Hotteterre was a member of a dynasty of musicians, instrument makers and composers who were closely associated with the court in France from the mid-17th century until the end of the ancien régime. As performers they played wind instruments of various kinds, such as the transverse flute and the oboe. The former was the instrument of Jacques-Martin who added le Romain to his name since his stay in Rome from 1698 to 1700. Those years had a strong influence on his development as a composer.

Hotteterre contributed to the growing popularity of the flute in the first quarter of the 18th century. At the end of that period it was almost as popular as the violin. The Italian influences in Hotteterre's oeuvre cannot be overlooked. These are present in the first collection which he published as his op. 1 in 1708, which was reprinted in a revised edition in 1715 (recently recorded by Camerata Köln). However, that collection includes suites whose movements have French titles and often have the form of character pieces. In his op. 3 Hotteterre makes only use of the form of the Corellian sonata da camera: they are all in four movements, and most of the second movements have the form of a fugue. The titles are still in French, and so are the character indications, such as gracieusement and légèrement. Otherwise these sonatas are more Italian in character than French.

This could well have contributed to the performances being as convincing as they are. This ensemble of Italian musicians has a very good feeling for the features of the sonatas, and the considerable contrasts between the various movements are perfectly conveyed. The third movements are usually the most expressive: all but one have the indication grave. French elegance comes especially to the fore in the opening préludes, with indications gravement or lentement.

The addition of harpsichord pieces by Jean-Henry d'Anglebert may come as a bit of a surprise, especially since he is of an earlier generation. In his time Italian music was treated with contempt and you won't find any Italian influence in his oeuvre. The only collection of music which was published in his lifetime was the Pièces de clavecin of 1689; some pieces have been preserved in manuscript. There is no lack of recordings of his keyboard works, but what we get here is a part of his output which has not received that much attention. D'Anglebert was one of the first to transcribe instrumental pieces from operas by Lully for harpsichord. In the next century composers like Royer and in particular Balbastre followed in his footsteps.

The latter added much material of his own to make the transcriptions more virtuosic. D'Anglebert is more modest in his approach. He "rather focuses on adapting them to the sound and range of the harpsichord, thereby maintaining or indeed enhancing the original expressive content", as Basilio Timparano states in the liner-notes. Having listened to some of Balbastre's transcriptions only a short while ago I am much more impressed by d'Anglebert's efforts in this department. They stay closer to the originals and demonstrate that the extras are not needed to turn these pieces into full-blown harpsichord works. Timparano delivers very fine performances.

The connection between Hotteterre and D'Anglebert is that both were admirers of Lully and his operas. Bringing them together also shows how French music developed from the pure French style of the latest decades of the 17th century to the goût réuni of the first quarter of the 18th. Those interested in French music of the ancien régime should add this nice disc to their collections.

Johan van Veen (© 2014)

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