Mondonville: Pièces de clavecin en sonates

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COMPOSERS: Mondonville
LABELS: Teldec Das Alte Werk
WORKS: Pièces de clavecin en sonates
PERFORMER: Lars Frydén (violin)Gustav Leonhardt (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 3984-21765-2 ADD Reissue (1966)
By combining the French tradition of character pieces for solo harpsichord with the virtuoso Italian violin sonata, Mondonville created a strikingly original genre with his Pièces de clavecin en sonates – six works full of charm, wit, virtuosity and grace. Recording them on period instruments back in 1966, Lars Frydén and Gustav Leonhardt were covering almost as much new ground as Mondonville himself, and it is a testament to their musicianship that these performances have stood the test of three decades. Despite one or two moments of slack ensemble, these are vigorous and spirited accounts, with Frydén producing an admirably sonorous tone from his period violin. Sadly, though, the up-front balance doesn’t flatter the bright sound of the harpsichord.

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Mondonville’s set was the inspiration for Rameau’s Pièces de clavecin en concerts – character pieces, often named after the patrons, pupils and performers in Rameau’s circle, with all the vibrancy and invention, the sensuousness and exotic atmosphere of the composer’s stage works condensed into intimate chamber music. If these veteran Dutch performers are a little wanting in sensuous fluidity, they amply make up for it with their sparkling, incisive playing and faultless ensemble. Wonderfully vital performances, not the least faded after nearly 30 years. Kate Bolton