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LOEILLET Family: "The Submission - Sonatas, Suites and Concertos"

Les Goûts-Authentiques
Dir: Jan Devlieger

rec: Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2010, Ghent, Conservatory (Concert Hall Miry)
Et'cetera - KTC 1434 (© 2011) (66'33")
Liner-notes: E/D/F
Cover & track-list
Scores J.B. Loeillet
Scores John Loeillet

Jan DEVLIEGER (b.1967): Reflection on a tune by Mr. Loeillet for 2 violins, viola and cello; Jacques (Jacob) LOEILLET (1685-1748): Sonata for 2 recorders, 2 transverse flutes and bc in b minor; Jacques (Jacob) LOEILLET or Robert WOODCOCK (1690-1728): Concerto for oboe, strings and bc in E flat (Woodcock XII) [4]; Concerto for transverse flute, 2 violins and bc in D (Woodcock III) [4]; Jean Baptiste LOEILLET (1688-c1720): Sonata for recorder and bc in a minor, op. 1,1, arr for 2 recorders [1]; John LOEILLET (1680-1730): Canary (arr Jan Devlieger); Entrée (arr Jan Devlieger); Passepied Round O (arr Jan Devlieger); Sonata for recorder, oboe and bc in g minor, op. 1,3 [2]; Suit III for harpsichord in c minor [3]; The Prince Eugene (arr Jan Devlieger); The Shepherdess (arr Jan Devlieger); The Submission (arr Jan Devlieger)

Sources: [1] Jean Baptiste Loeillet, Six sonatas of Two Parts, Fitted and Contriv'd for Two Flutes, 1716-20) John Loeillet, [2] Sonatas for Variety of Instruments, op. 1, 1722; [3] 6 Suits of Lessons, 1723; [4] Robert Woodcock, XII Concertos in Eight Parts, 1727

Marcel Ketels, treble recorder, descant recorder, transverse flute; Jan Devlieger, treble recorder, voice flute, harpsichord; Karen Ketels, voice flute; Wim Vandenbossche, transverse flute; Ann Vanlacker, oboe; Peter Van Boxelaere, Stefaan Smagghe, violin; Kaat De Cock, viola; Marian Minnen, cello; Xavier Vanhelst, violone; Guy Penson, harpsichord

A long time ago Dutch and Belgian radio broadcast a series about the Loeillet family, a Flemish dynasty of performing musicians and composers. Compositions from members of that family were performed by then leading players, such as the members of the Kuijken family. As far as I know these recordings were never released on disc. At the time Loeillet wasn't exactly a household name, and unfortunately not much has changed. Their music still doesn't appear regularly on concert programmes and on CD. That is all the more remarkable as the Loeillets have written quite a lot for the recorder, and recorder players always complain about a lack of repertoire.

Only last year I reviewed two discs with music by two of the Loeillets, John - also called 'John Loeillet of London' - and Jean Baptiste, nicknamed 'Loeillet de Gant'. The present disc includes music by a third member of the family, Jacques or Jacob. The family relations are a little confusing. The first generation consists of Pieter (Pierre Noël) (1651-1735) and his nephew Pierre (1674-1743). John - originally Jean Baptiste - was a nephew of Pieter. Jacques (Jacob) was his younger brother. Then Jean Baptiste, 'Loeillet de Gant', was a son of Pieter. He had a younger brother, Etienne Joseph, but no compositions by him seem to be known.

The two discs I reviewed included only sonatas for recorder and bc. This disc offers a wider view on the oeuvre of three of the Loeillets. John is probably the best-known of the family, and we hear a number of dances of which only the melody line exists. They have been set for ensemble by Jan Devlieger. One of them is known as The Submission, from which the title of this disc is taken. Loeillet composed this for the English dancing master Kellom Tomlinson. He wrote the book The Art of Dancing which was published in 1735. Before he published six dances; Loeillet composed the music for four of them: The Submission (3 movements), The Prince Eugene (3 movements), The Shepherdess and Passepied Round O. The Entrée is from a journal with notes and choreographies Tomlinson kept and dates from 1716. Later Tomlinson rewrote that choreography and at that time the Canary may have been added.

The Sonata in g minor is from a set of six sonatas for Variety of Instruments. Three of these, among them No. 3, are for recorder and oboe, the other three for two transverse flutes. It is interesting to note that it seems likely that John Loeillet was responsible for introducing the transverse flute as a fashionable instrument to England. His opus 2 contains three sonatas for two transverse flutes and six of the 12 solo sonatas op. 3 are also for the flute. Loeillet had quite a reputation as a harpsichordist and composer of keyboard music. Three Lessons and 6 Suits of Lessons have come down to us. From the latter set the Suit III in c minor is played here, which is in the French tradition, even though most of the dances have Italian titles, like corrente and sarabanda.

Jean Baptiste Loeillet is represented with just one piece. He worked in Lyon during most of his short life. 'Loeillet de Gant' is the name he used for his own publications. Five collections of sonatas from his pen were printed in his lifetime, the first four of which are for the recorder. The opus 5 includes sonatas for two instruments, transverse flute and oboe or violin, with basso continuo. They were printed in Amsterdam and reprinted in London, which is an indication of their good reception. Six sonatas from his opus 1 and opus 2 were arranged, probably by the English publisher, for two recorders without basso continuo. One of them is the Sonata in a minor, op. 1,1, which is played here in this arrangement.

Jacques or Jacob Loeillet was an oboist by profession. He worked as an oboist at the service of the Elector of Bavaria during the latter's stay in the Netherlands and moved to the Elector's court in 1726. Later he worked as hautbois de la chambre du roi in Versailles. He returned to Ghent in 1746. Two collections of six sonatas each were printed as opus 4 and opus 5 respectively; the opuses 1 to 3 have not been discovered yet. The Sonata in b minor has been preserved in manuscript. It has a remarkable scoring for two recorders and two transverse flutes with basso continuo - a combination of 'old' (recorders) and 'new' (flutes) as it were. There is little use of counterpoint in this piece. It rather reflects the galant idiom as the instruments mostly move in parallel motion, often the two recorders versus the two flutes. Especially interesting are the two concertos, for transverse flute and for oboe respectively. In some sources they are attributed to Jaques Loeillet, in others to Robert Woodcock. One of the arguments against the latter's authorship is the fact that he was an amateur. But that in itself seems hardly a convincing argument: amateurs of those days should not be compared with what we mean by amateur. Many amateurs in the 18th century were highly skilled players, and there is no reason to believe some would not be able to compose music of good quality. The Concerto in D has also been preserved in a copy which was owned by Jacques Loeillet, and this includes a grave which is different from the siciliana in the version which was published by Walsh under Woodcock's name. It is assumed that Loeillet may have played this concerto and replaced the middle movement by one of his own. This concerto is of the concerto da camera type, with two violin parts and no viola.

This disc is an illuminating addition to the two discs which were the subject of the review I mentioned before. The performances are quite good, and the disc as a whole is certainly entertaining. Even so, I think more could have been made of this repertoire. I find in particular the dynamics too flat: stronger dynamic accents and probably also a more differentiated treatment of the tempi would have made these performances even better.

Johan van Veen (© 2012)

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