The Nightingale and The Butterfly

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Couperin,D’Hervelois,Dieupart,Philidor & Visée
LABELS: Linn
WORKS: French Baroque chamber music by Couperin, Dieupart, D’Hervelois, Philidor & Visée
PERFORMER: Pamela Thorby (recorders), Elizabeth Kenny (archlute, theorbo, Baroque guitar)
CATALOGUE NO: Linn CKD 341 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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Virtuoso playing and scholarly research come together in this disc of French Baroque works, ranging from arcane suites (edited specifically for this recording) by Charles Dieupart, Anne-Danican Philidor and Louis Caix d’Hervelos (whose Papillons evokes the fluttering wings of a butterfly), to François Couperin’s celebrated imitations of a lovelorn nightingale. 

Pamela Thorby’s eclectic experience in Baroque, jazz and folk music is everywhere apparent in these performances, with their combination of technical precision and improvisatory flair.

Exploiting the tonal range of a battery of recorders, from the perky sopranino to the tenor ‘voice-flute’, Thorby delightfully evokes the birds and butterflies of this pastoral idyll, and capers through the dance movements with fleet fingerwork.

She is superbly partnered by Elizabeth Kenny, who plays archlute, theorbo and Baroque guitar, valiantly coping with the role more commonly realised by the harpsichord. Kenny also takes centre stage for solo works by Robert de Visée, whose sublimely melancholy music would soothe the Sun King to sleep at night.

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The full effects of this musical menagerie are best enjoyed with surround sound, though the recorder is at times a little too forward in the recorded balance, and some of the music’s luscious harmonies are obscured as a result. Nonetheless, a disc full of delights and surprises. Kate Bolton