Daquin: Nouveau livre de Noëls

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Daquin
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Nouveau livre de Noëls
PERFORMER: Christopher Herrick (organ)
CATALOGUE NO: CDA 66816 DDD
Daquin belonged to a group of composers in the 18th century who followed in the wake of Rameau, one of the great original minds in all of French music. Daquin’s own style has an invigorating, ‘out-of-doors’ feel to it, with sounds of droning musettes and playful flutes conjuring up vividly the scenes of celebration and worship by the shepherds at the birth of Christ.

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Christopher Herrick and the Hyperion team have come up trumps with a gem of an organ in the church of St Rémy de Dieppe. Built by Charles Parizot in 1736-39, it is an exact contemporary of Daquin’s Noëls and, despite several ill-advised facelifts, it has retained all of its glorious character. Clear flute choruses through to big-bellied reeds are allowed full expression by the Hyperion engineers.

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Yet this is only half the story. Herrick’s playing is as if to the manner born: it’s alive to the rhythmic swagger that pushes the music along, and one can almost sense a smile on his face in the variation movements, as he high-hurdles any technical traps with such ease. Occasionally, I found his use of ornamentation too fussy, but this is a minor and subjective quibble. This is marvellous playing, full of energy and irrepressible jeu d’esprit. Stephen Haylett