musica Dei donum

CD reviews

"Recorders Recorded: Dutch repertoire for recorder played on 18th century recorders from the collection of the Gemeentemuseum The Hague"

Saskia Coolen, recorder; Pieter-Jan Belder, recordera, harpsichordb; David van Ooijen, lutec

rec: April 26, 27 &29, 2004, Bunnik (Neth), Oude Dorpskerk
Globe - GLO 5209 (68'01")

Elias Bronnemüller (1666 - 1710): Solo pour la flūte in F [1]b; Saskia Coolen: Preludes for recorder solo; Arcangelo Corelli (1653 - 1713): Sonata in B flat, op. 5,11b; Jacob van Eyck (1590 - 1667): Bravade [2]; Willem de Fesch (1687 - 1760): Sonata in G [3]c; Pierre Antoine Fiocco (1650 - 1714): Sonate IX in g minor [4]b; Sijbrandt van Noordt (1660 - 1705): Sonata a flauto solo e basso continuo in F, op. 1,1b; Jacobus Nozeman (1693 - 1745): Sonata op. 1,4c; Peeter Piccart (? - ?): Menuet & Bouree; Jean-Chrestien Schickhardt (1682 - 1762): Airs 10 & 15; Duets 22 & 26 in g minor [5]a; Unico van Wassenaer (1692 - 1766): Sonata I in F [6]c

(Sources: [1] Bronnemüller, Fasciculus musicus sive Tabulae varii generis modorum ac concentuum musicorum, 1710; [2] Van Eyck, Der Fluyten Lusthof, 1646/49; [3] De Fesch, 12 Sonatas, Six for a Violin, with a Thorough Bass, Several of them are proper for a German Flute, and Six for Two Violoncellos; [4] Fiocco, Dix Sonates pour les flūtes; [5] Schickhardt, Principes de la flūte, 1710/12; [6] Van Wassenaer, Sonate di flauto a solo et basso per il cembalo, c1714)

The recorder was a popular instrument in the renaissance, and after a period in which it was pushed into the sidelines by other instruments, like the transverse flute and the violin, it regained its popularity at the end of the 17th century. When the revival of early music started the recorder was one of the first instruments used in the performance of long-forgotten repertoire. It was in particular Frans Brüggen who played a crucial role in the promotion of the recorder. In a number of recordings he used historical instruments from his own collection.

This disc is the first in a series in which historical instruments of the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague are used. Here we hear one renaissance recorder and a number of recorders made in the late 17th and the 18th century. In the booklet Jan Bouterse writes that just a few copies of renaissance recorders have been preserved, and they are hardly ever played in public because of their fragility. In comparison a respectable number of recorders from the baroque period have survived, and the museum in The Hague owns quite a number of this kind. They mainly come from two collections which were set up in the 19th century by two Dutch collectors. A pretty large number of the instruments are of Dutch origin, and made by builders like Boekhout, Beukers, Terton, Van Aardenberg and Van Heerde, all working in Amsterdam in the first half of the 18th century. These instruments are all built in the French fashion reflecting the changes in the making of recorders by the French Hotteterre family.

On this disc mainly instruments of Dutch origin are used - apart from instruments by Denner, Oberlender (both from Nuremberg) and Bressan (London). Because of that Saskia Coolen has looked for music either composed by Dutch composers or music by foreign composers published in the Netherlands.
Since there is hardly any Dutch music for recorder solo she has made some preludes in the style of the music played here, in order to demonstrate the sound of the recorders. (The tracklist should have set them apart more clearly. Here they seem to be part of the preceding composition.)
Most pieces were originally composed for the recorder, but the sonatas by Corelli and Nozeman were originally intended for the violin, and the sonata by De Fesch was originally written for the transverse flute.

The music on this programme reflects the practice of domestic playing, in particular in the Netherlands. Household inventories of the 18th century show that the recorder was widespread, and that instruments of the most famous makers of the time were circulating. And it was very handy that Amsterdam was a centre of music publishing. Lots of music for the recorder was published by Roger, for example the treatise Principes de la flūte by Schickhardt, from which the duets on this disc have been taken, which are particularly delightful.

The programme on this disc is well put together and excellently performed. Since the recorders are in different pitches, the harpsichord and the lute had to adapt to them during the recording. The basso continuo part is realised either by a lute or by the harpsichord, without additional support from a cello or viola da gamba. This is perhaps closer to the actual performance practice in a domestic environment than the use of an additional string bass. Both Pieter-Jan Belder and David van Ooijen give excellent support to the recorder. Ornaments are tastefully added and the tempi are mostly well-chosen.

The booklet contains an interesting essay by Jan Bouterse, a list of all historical recorders in the Gemeentemuseum and a list of the instruments which were used for every piece on this disc.
It isn't just worthwhile because of the use of historical instruments, but also because a number of items on the programme have never been recorded before.
This recording is a promising start of a series to look forward to.

Johan van Veen (© 2004)

Relevant links:

Gemeentemuseum The Hague

CD Reviews