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Jacques Martin HOTTETERRE 'le Romain' (1673 - 1763): "Flûte de la chambre du roy"

La Simphonie du Marais

rec: Dec 6 & 7, 2015 (live), Paris, Cité de la Musique
Musiques à la Chabotterie - 605016 (© 2017) (69'50")
Liner-notes: E/F
Cover & track-list

Prelude in e minor; Prelude in F 'avec des cadences sur tous les degrés de l'octave'; Prelude in g minor; Prelude in g minor 'avec des cadences sur tous les degrés de l'octave'; Prelude in B flat; Preludes in F; 1ère Suite in F; 2ème Suite in e minor; 3ème Suite in B flat; 4ème Suite in g minor

Hugo Reyne, recorder; Etienne Mangot, viola da gamba; Thomas Dunford, archlute

Jacques Martin Hotteterre was a member of a large family, which had its roots in Normandy. Since the early 17th century most of the Hotteterres devoted themselves to instrument making. In particular after some of them moved to Paris, they had a strong influence on the technical development of wind instruments. They played a crucial role in the transformation of the renaissance instruments into their baroque counterparts.

Most of them also played instruments: at least six Hotteterres played under Lully's direction in the 1670s. Jacques Martin was also active as a player: he held an important position at the royal court, granting him a high social status. But instead of making wind instruments, he concentrated on composition and on teaching the transverse flute. The latter was an important part of his career: in 1707 he published his treatise Principes de la flûte traversière, ou flûte d'Allemagne, de la flûte à bec, ou flûte douce, et du haut-bois, diviséz par traitéz op. 1. It was followed in 1719 by L'art de préluder sur la flûte traversière, sur la flûte-à-bec, sur le haubois, et autres instruments de dessus. From the latter treatise the separate préludes on the present disc were taken. In 1737 Hotteterre published a treatise on the art of playing the musette.

Hotteterre was one of the main exponents of the transverse flute, which he described as "one of the most pleasant and one of the most fashionable instruments". The latter explains why so much music for the flute was written at the time, not only by Hotteterre himself but also by other composers, among them Michel Blavet, the most brilliant flautist of the time. However, most collections of music were not exclusively intended for the transverse flute. Most title pages explicitly mention other instruments as alternatives. An example is the book from which the suites in the present recording are taken: Pièces pour la flûte traversière, et autres instruments, avec la basse-continue ... livre premier, oeuvre second. This was published in 1708; in the reprint of 1715 the suites are partly split and reorganized. In combination with the transpositions for the recorder, resulting in different keys, this can cause some confusion.

The disc opens with Préludes in F, followed by the 1ere Suite in F; this is the first suite in both editions in the key of D major. Then we hear a Prélude in g minor and the 4ème Suite in the same key; the original key is e minor. This suite was the first half of a longer suite in the 1708 edition and was published separately in the second edition. The 3ème Suite in B flat is a transposition from G major; this suite is the second part of a larger suite in the 1708 edition. It is preceded here by the Prélude in the same key from L'Art de préluder. The programme ends with the 2ème Suite in e minor; that is a bit of a mystery, as in the two editions I can't find any suite which matches its structure and titles.

It is the only suite whose movement-titles are confined to an indication of the kind of dance they represent. In the other suites every movement has an additional title, which are explained by Hugo Reyne in his liner-notes. The Suite in F includes titles such as Le Duc d'Orléans and Le Comte de Brionne; these refer to courtiers from the reign of Louis XIV, to whom the first edition was dedicated. "The Suite in g minor presents a return trip to Paris, back from Fontainebleau". La Fontainebleau is the title of the allemande; it is followed by a sarabande with the title Le Départ (the departure) and the suite ends with a branle le village whose title refers to the village L'Auteuil. The Suite in B flat "takes us to Saint-Cloud castle, the very home of Philippe d'Orléans", son of Louis XIV's younger brother Philippe I; he acted as regent for Louis XV from 1715 to 1723.

In the booklet Hugo Reyne writes about the important role Hotteterre and his music played in his career. He was one of the first composers whose music he became acquainted with as a student of the recorder. The recording is also special in that Reyne plays a copy of a recorder made by Hoteterre himself, an alto recorder from around 1700, which is preserved in the Musée de musique in Paris. As most historical instruments are not in a playable condition or just too fragile for use, this comes as close to the original as is possible. That lends this disc a strong amount of authenticity. The personal involvement of Hugo Reyne in the music he has chosen results in a compelling recital which shows the music, and this particular instrument, in their full glory. The subtle flattements on long notes are especially nice. I should not forget to mention the engaging support of Etienne Mangot and Thomas Dunford. This is a recording of two recitals in Paris; this explains Hugo Reyne's announcements of most of the movements. I wish these had been omitted. The audience behave impeccably; at the end they show their appreciation with enthusiastic applause. That was well deserved.

Even if you have these suites already in your collection, there is every reason to add this disc to it.

Johan van Veen (© 2018)

Relevant links:

La Simphonie du Marais

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