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Thomas Dunford (archlute), Jean Rondeau (harpsichord), et al (Erato)

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

Couperin: Les Baricades Mistérieuses; Prélude in C major; Le Dodo, ou L’Amour au berceau; Marais: Les Voix humaines; La Reveuse; Lambert: Mes jours s’en vont finir; Visée: Suite in D minor; M Charpentier: Chaconne ‘sans frayeur…’; Anglebert: Suite III in D minor – excerpt; Forqueray: Suite No. 1 in D minor – La Portugaise; La Sylva; Jupiter; Rameau: Je vous revois…
Thomas Dunford (archlute), Jean Rondeau (harpsichord), Lea Desandre (mezzo-soprano), Marc Mauillon (baritone), Myriam Rignol (viola da gamba)
Erato 9029526995   70:49 mins

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This is a disc mainly of rondos, adjustments and arrangements, for there is little that is played as the composers intended. The artists, though, are accomplished and there is plenty to admire in their intimate programme of mid-to late French Baroque chamber music.

The high-points are Myriam Rignol’s eloquent playing of La Rêveuse, Thomas Dunford’s Les Voix humaines, both by Marais, Jean Rondeau’s D minor Prélude for harpsichord by D’Anglebert and Rameau’s beguiling duet, ‘Je vous revois…’ from Les Fêtes d’Hébé, sung by Lea Desandre and Marc Mauillon. These afford unqualified pleasure and are performed with sensibility and attention to detail. Other delights include an invigorating account of Antoine Forqueray’s Jupiter, chucking his thunderbolts about the place, and a touching Charpentier chaconne, ‘Sans frayeur dans ce bois’, alluringly sung by Desandre.

So far, so good, but where my enthusiasm began to evaporate was in some of the, to my ears, invasive and redundant meddling. The most irritating of them was Couperin’s celebrated harpsichord rondeau Les Baricades Mistérieuses, whose music is shared between harpsichord and archlute. This is fine in the context of an informal concert and would almost certainly gain applause, if only for its intimate dialogue. But repeated listening is another matter and, after three exposures, I had had enough of its distracting elements. Lambert’s air, ‘Mes jours s’en vont finir’ is perhaps the only item entirely new to the catalogue but I found it dispiriting. Robert de Visée’s D minor Suite, with its melancholy Chacone and catchy Mascarade is a delight and Couperin’s C major Prélude is thoughtfully played by Rondeau.

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Nicholas Anderson