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Jacques-Martin HOTTETERRE (1674 - 1763): "Complete Chamber Music Vol. 2"

Camerata Köln

rec: 2011 - 2013, Cologne, Deutschlandfunk (Kammermusiksaal)
CPO - 777 867-2 (© 2015) (75'15")
Liner-notes: E/D
Cover & track-list

Ecos pour la flûte traversière seule [2]; Pièces à deux flûtes avec une Basse adjoutéec [2]; Prélude in g minor [3]; Sonata in g minor, op. 3,1d [1]; Sonata in D, op. 3,2a [1]; Sonata in b minor, op. 3,3 [1]; Sonata in e minor, op. 3,4 [1]; Sonata in A, op. 3,5a [1]; Sonata in G, op. 3,6 [1]; Troisième Suitte de Pièces à deux Dessus, op. 8b

Sources: [1] Sonates en trio pour les flûtes traversieres, flûtes a bec, violons, hautbois, etc, livre premier, op. 3, 1712; [2] Pièces pour la flûte traversière, et autres instruments, avec la basse-continue ... livre premier, oeuvre second, 1708, 17152; [3] L'art de préluder sur la flûte traversière, sur la flûte-à-bec, sur le haubois, et autres instruments de dessus, op. 7, 1719

Marie Deller, recordera; Leonard Schelb, recorder, transverse fluteb; Michael Schneider, recorder, transverse flutec; Karl Kaiser, Susanne Kaiserd, transverse flute; Swantje Hoffmann, violin; Rainer Zipperling, viola da gamba; Yasunori Imamura, theorbo; Sabine Bauer, harpsichord

This is the second volume of a complete recording of the chamber music by the French composer Jacques-Martin Hotteterre. He was a member of a large dynasty of instrument makers and musicians. They were closely asssociated with the court from Jean (I) (c1610-c1692) to Louis (IV) who died in 1801. Jean-Martin has become the best-known and is the only one who has left a substantial number of compositions. He added le Romain to his name as he worked in Rome as maestro di flauto to Marchese Ruspoli. It gave him the opportunity to become acquainted with the Italian style and in particular the music of Arcangelo Corelli. The inventory of his music library attests to his wide interests as it includes music by Italian composers but also French masters and even two English operas.

Whereas the first volume in this recording project included suites in the French style, the present disc comprises the six trio sonatas which were published in 1712 as his op. 3. The form of the trio sonata in itself was of Italian origin. The first French composer to write such pieces was Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre. The Italian style was not appreciated in France but at the time Hotteterre published these trio sonatas the climate started to change. Several composers showed their interest in Italian music and incorporated Italian elements in their own compositions. They usually looked for a mixture of French and Italian elements, the so-called goûts réunis. This was also the title of a collection of music by François Couperin. Hotteterre's trio sonatas op. 3 show the same mixture of the two tastes.

Their texture is clearly modelled after Corelli. Every sonata comprises four movements in the usual order: slow - fast - slow - fast. Four of the six sonatas also follow Corelli's habit of including a fugue as the second movement. In some slow movements we find the traces of Italian pathos. A superb example is the grave from the Sonata in e minor, op. 3,4. However, these sonatas don't reflect the pure Italian style. One of the reasons is the scoring. Hotteterre conceived them for two transverse flutes, the most fashionable instruments of the time in France. In Italy chamber music was dominated by the violin; the flute played a relatively minor role. The theatrical style which is a feature of Italian instrumental music comes best to the fore with strings. The domination of wind instruments in France - not only the transverse flute but also the recorder, the oboe and the 'popular' musette - inevitably changes the character of his Italian-influenced compositions and bring them closer to the more intimate and elegant, 'conversational' style which was a feature of French music.

The title page of this set mentions several instruments: the transverse flute, the recorder, the oboe and even the violin. This has been taken by the performers as an opportunity to score the various sonatas differently. The Sonata in e minor I just mentioned is played here by flute and violin and considering the character of the grave that makes much sense. Other sonatas are performed with two flutes, two recorders or recorder and flute. All these combinations work very well and underline the variety in these sonatas.

In addition to the set of sonatas op. 3 we get pieces from other collections. Hotteterre published several treatises, and one of them is called L'art de préluder sur la flûte traversière, sur la flûte-à-bec, sur le haubois, et autres instruments de dessus and includes a number of preludes for one instrument and bc. These demonstrate one of the subjects of this book: the principles of modulation. The first volume of this recording project included the suites op. 1 which were printed in 1708. Hotteterre added some extra pieces which have found a place on the present disc. Ecos is a piece with a pastoral character whose title stems from the fact that every brief phrase is repeated pianissimo. It is for flute without accompaniment; the next to pieces, for two flutes and bc, are of the same character. The second, Rondeau Le champêtre, also includes echos which caused Louis XIV to call it Les ecos. The remaining piece is the Troisième Suitte which was published separately as the op. 8. It comprises eight pieces separated here by the three pieces from the op. 2 I just mentioned. Karl Kaiser, in his liner-notes, calls them "naive pastoral pieces (so-called brunettes)". The term brunette is mostly used for vocal music. We are not told - and perhaps it is not known - whether these are instrumental arrangements of vocal pieces or original instrumental pieces modelled after such pastoral songs. The first four are played on two recorders, the remaining four on two transverse flutes.

The latter round off another fine disc from Camerata Köln, one of the best ensembles for chamber music. Its members show a good sense of the idiom of Hotteterre. They find the right approach in the trio sonatas. These reflect the influence of the Italian style but then adapted to the French taste, and that is perfectly conveyed here. The players have not fallen for the temptation to exaggerate the Italian traces.

If you purchase this disc you get more than an hour of high-class entertainment.

Johan van Veen (© 2016)

Relevant links:

Camerata Köln

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