COMPOSERS: F Couperin,Jean-Féry Rebel & Etienne Le Moine,Marais
ALBUM TITLE: Collection: The Sun King’s Paradise
PERFORMER: Palladian Ensemble
CATALOGUE NO: CKD 100
The Palladian Ensemble’s latest foray into the Baroque features French chamber music from the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King. According to Palladian theorboist William Carter, French composers of this period shared a ‘delight in instrumental sonority and colour’, the result of which was a music, rich in timbral subtlety, that performers can ‘relax into’ and listeners continue to enjoy.
The pieces here offer persuasive corroboration, from the exuberant hues of François Couperin’s Musette de choisie & musette de tavernie, with its cheery bagpipe imitations, to the more pastel shades of Le Moine’s Prelude and Chaconne for solo theorbo or Marais’s Tombeau pour M Ste Colombe, a heartfelt tribute to his former teacher sketched with grave delicacy by dark viol and lambent theorbo. Marais’s elegant Suite in D perhaps demonstrates Carter’s arguments most fully; the closing Symphonie is a serene accord of wind and strings that exemplifies its composer’s appraisal of the timbral mix as ‘fort agréable’. The most extraordinary selection here is Rebel’s Les caractères de la danse, which comprises brief snippets of various dances segued together in a single movement – like a Baroque version of sampling.
In sum, an enterprising programme, given deft, vivacious performances. The Sun King’s Paradise is an earthly delight. Graham Lock