Sonata I, La Pucelle
Les Sylvains [arr. de Visée]
Sonata III, L’Astrée
Caprice de Chaconne
Sonate pour le Hautbois
Les Délices [Debra Nagy (oboe), Scott Metcalfe (violin), Emily Walhout (7-string viola da gamba), Lucas Harris (15-course theorbo) & Lisa Goode Crawford (French double-manual harpsichord)]
Recorded 2, 3 & 5 July 2008 in St Paul’s Church, Cleveland Heights, Ohio
Reviewed by: Jeremy Robson-Jones
Reviewed: July 2010
CD No: Not advised
Duration: 56 minutes
Elegant phrasing and plangent sounds, vividly recorded, emerge at the outset of this excellent Louis XIV-related release, soon to be followed by dancing measures that always remain expressive, here enhanced by the excellent musicians of Les Délices, a five-strong group of players who clearly relish their characterful instruments (all authentic Baroque or copies thereof) and who emerge as collegiate colleagues and making François Couperin’s Sonata I an enjoyable entrée. The same composer’s Les Sylvains, played here on a five-course guitar, is a lightly dancing gem, haunting in its gentle motions and intriguing modulations. Sonata III ends the disc; sadness and intensity initially prevail, strings and oboe taking the burden before healthier strides come to the fore, these moods alternating.
The concise four-movement Suite by Pierre Danican Philidor is melodious, its terpsichorean-measures agreeably decorated, its aims modest but entertaining. Another four-movement Suite comes from Louis-Antoine Dornel, effectively a sonata for oboe with accompaniment, which shows-off the solo instrument to fine effect in both lyrical and athletic terms, and to which Debra Nagy is a sympathetic virtuoso. Caprice de Chaconne by Francesco Corbetta is another showpiece for five-course guitar, an instrument that on this disc seems to take the limelight and may well have the best tunes. La Félicité by Louis-Nicolas Clérambault is another short movement, this time for the full complement of players, one that touches the heart in its expression. François Chauvon’s Sixth Suite is a seven-movement dance-suite of attractive outlines and a generally joyous countenance, ornately decorated; the penultimate ‘Très lentement’ brings melancholy to the table before the final ‘Gigue’ sends diners away happily.
The booklet note is unhelpfully published as black on a green or pink background, and the recording places the musicians very forwardly, somewhat edgy-sounding and wearing, which is a shame because the musicians’ artistry is considerable as well as scholarly. Nevertheless the centuries roll away when the members of Les Délices bring this long-existing music to communicative and sparkling life.