Louis-Gabriel Guillemain was one of the more striking musical figures in mid 18th-century France. Italian-trained, he was prominent as composer and violinist alike. He led the second violins in the orchestra of Louis XV’s mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour, to whom he also dedicated his Op. 15 trios, one of which is recorded here. If evidence were needed that French chamber music continued to flourish after François Couperin, here it is in abundance. Guillemain’s music is not only accomplished, it is eminently enjoyable; the ‘divertissement’ dedicated to Madame de Pompadour, for example, begins with an arresting French overture and concludes with a rhythmically fascinating, supremely elegant ‘Chaconne Gay’.
The performance throughout this varied collection matches the brilliance of Guillemain’s writing, notably the four pieces for ‘harpsichord with violin accompaniment’, a clear pre-echo of the classical sonata. Maude Gratton’s keyboard playing is deft, while Stéphanie Paulet’s violin is appropriately understated. The delivery is stylish without being fussy, from players who are clearly attuned to Guillemain’s soundworld. Excellently recorded, this is a fascinating insight into the late French Baroque.