Sainte Colombe

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COMPOSERS: Sainte Colombe
LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Les couplets; Le retrouvé; La conférence; Le changé; Tombeau les regrets
PERFORMER: Hille Perl & Lorenz Duftschmidt (viola da gamba), Lee Santana (theorbo, archlute, Baroque lute), Andrew Lawrence-King (triple harp, Irish harp, organ)
CATALOGUE NO: 05472 77373 2
The music of the French violistes was barely known outside specialist circles until Sainte Colombe and his pupil Marais shot to fame in the film Tous les matins du monde. Since then, the dark melancholy and elusive lyricism of their music have turned the film’s soundtrack into a bestseller. This disc, ostensibly of music by Sainte Colombe, has been targeted towards the same mass appeal, with the elegant Hille Perl adorning front and back covers. The three other (less decorous?) performers are consigned to the small print on the back page, even though each one of them plays on every track. The disc is aptly named: Retrouvé et Changé – ‘changé’ because virtually everything you hear is an elaboration, decoration or transformation of Sainte Colombe’s original. The artistry and sensitivity of these performers is in no doubt: Hille Perl’s gamba playing is truly beguiling, and harpist Andrew Lawrence-King responds with his customary style and dexterity. But while many may appreciate the improvisatory quality of the music-making, it seems a shame that Sainte Colombe’s music is rarely left to speak for itself. Kate Bolton