L’esprit Galant

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Boesset,Charpentier,Gautier,M Lambert,Pinel and Hotman,Sébastien le Camus,Visée
LABELS: Channel
WORKS: Works by M Lambert, Sébastien le Camus, Visée, Charpentier, Boësset, Gautier, Pinel and Hotman
PERFORMER: Johannette Zomer (soprano), Fred Jacobs (theorbo)
CATALOGUE NO: Channel CCS SA 24307 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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This enterprising and attractive collection alternates that most prized of intimate vocal entertainments in the high French Baroque, the air serieux, with well chosen solos for lute or, more specifically, the large, resonant theorbo favoured in late 17th-century France.

The poetry set deals mainly with the pains rather than the pleasures of love and elicits music of exquisite sensibility occasionally reminiscent, in the earlier composers featured such as Boësset and Gautier, of Dowland.

Not all of the settings are tinged with melancholy: Charpentier brings a dramatic edge to the proceedings in his marvellously expressive setting of ‘Ah, let me dream’ and introduces a ‘devil may care’ element in ‘She, who is responsible’ and his compulsive treatment of ‘Free from fear’.

The emotional range in this collection is not large, but the repertoire repays engaged listening. Fred Jacobs is both expert as accompanist and as soloist in his various solos, notably a fine chaconne by Robert de Visée.

Johannette Zomer is adept in dealing with the vocal ornament needed to leaven repetition and, in this sympathetic recorded ambience, often charms.

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Occasionally some notes are not as centered in terms of pitch as they might be, but in general these performances serve this repertoire well.