WORKS: Folies d’Espagne; Prélude en harpègement; Fantaisie; Grand ballet; Sainte-Colombe: Chaconne raportée; ‘Dialogue’ from Book V
PERFORMER: Sophie Watillon, Friederike Heumann (bass viol), Xavier Díaz (theorbo, guitar), Evangelina Mascardi (guitar), Luca Guglielmi (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 036
Sophie Watillon’s name has been popping up in all the best places – Hespèrion XX, the Ricercar Consort, Ensemble Daedalus. She must have been dying to break out: she obviously has a lot to say and she says it with wit, taste, imagination and front. a bagpipily droning ‘Muzette’ from Book IV of Marais’s viol pieces, she creates an unforgettable effect by getting her continuo partner to loop-delay the tune in a hazily dissonant canon. Played on the right chart show, this could make Marais a star all over again.
Nowadays, many players follow the substantial suites Marais himself suggested or make up shorter ones. Watillon, like earlier virtuosi, unashamedly picks bright, juicy cherries, plus a Chaconne by the mysterious Sainte-Colombe. Some are familiar, like the variations on ‘La folia’; others aren’t – I especially like the playful, almost Mendelssohnian ‘Dialogue’ from Book V. Unfortunately, her ‘Couplets de folies’ are spoiled by two over-excitable continuo guitars. The rest, including the CD’s almost tragic title piece ‘La rêveuse’, stands up well beside my favourite players (Savall, Pierlot, Hantaï, Müller). The difficult sound balance is a gorgeous success; presentation is lavish and glossy – Alpha’s standard. Nick Morgan