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Visages Baroques (Raphaël Feuillâtre)

Raphaël Feuillâtre (guitar) (DG)

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

Visages Baroques
Works by JS Bach, Duphly, Forqueray, Rameau and P Royer
Raphaël Feuillâtre (guitar)
DG 486 4073   58:32 mins


Composer-harpsichordist Jacques Duphly was said to have performed with ‘much lightness of touch … which, sustained by ornaments, marvellously render(s) the character of his pieces.’ This might also be said of French guitarist Raphaël Feuillâtre – aged just 27 – whose supple sensitivity underpins a formidable yet remarkably unshowy expressive power.

In his debut album for Deutsche Grammophon, Feuillâtre, by placing JS Bach alongside French contemporaries, showcases not merely contrasting styles but the different lights shone on music by transcription, a practice extensive in the Baroque, while drawing on the modern-day guitar’s range of colour and sound. Bookended by Bach’s familiar Prelude in C major BWV 846 and Gavotte and Rondeau from the E major Lute Suite BWV 1006a, the release includes the German’s Partita No. 1 BWV 825 (arr. Reichenbach) and Concerto in D major BWV 972, Bach’s own keyboard arrangement of Vivaldi, further arranged for guitar by Judicaël Perroy.

In these and the more overtly dramatic French character pieces, Feuillâtre’s acute musical intelligence allies with frequent ornamentation which never sacrifices momentum or coherence of line. From Royer’s ‘L’Aimable’ to Forqueray’s ‘La Bellmont’ – with Duphly’s ‘Médée’ and own, rondeau homage to ‘La Forqueray’ – the emphasis is on works for harpsichord, with nods to the viola da gamba. It’s an exquisite, joyfully presented programme, with Rameau’s ‘L’entretien des Muses’ and ‘Les Cyclopes’ particularly striking in their clear, airy virtuosity.


Steph Power