Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Mouton - Anna Requescat In Pace - Ensemble Jacques Moderne, Suhubiette

Rating: 4/5

Good, but not one of the best

Mouton was a fine composer and I was glad to discover this disc of his music; it is a decent recording, but not quite as good as I'd hoped.

The program is Mouton's lament for the death of Anne de Bretagne in 1514 and a selection of motets including his most famous, the sublime Nesciens mater.  They are performed by a variety of musicians – choir both with and without viol consort, solo voice and viols and in one case by viols alone.  It's a good idea and works reasonably well; the singers and players are all good but there is a slight emotional flatness and sameness throughout the disc in spite of the variety of arrangements.  As a result I don't engage with this as I do with the Tallis Scholars' superb Mouton disc and even Nesciens mater doesn't quite glow as it can.

I don't mean to be too critical; this is fine music which is well performed, but it's just not a disc which really moves me as the very best do.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Bach - Gamba Sonatas - Perl, Schornsheim, Santana

Rating: 3/5

Not a recording for me

Much as I admire Hille Perl and love much of her work, I'm afraid I find this rendition of Bach's trio sonatas rather unengaging.

This is a set of six trio sonatas, originally composed for the organ.  They lend themselves well to transcription for other instruments as both Florilegium and especially The Purcell Quartet have shown in their excellent recordings.  I ought to find these arrangements for viola da gamba, harpsichord and lute a delight because I love the sound of the gamba and they are played by three excellent musicians, but I don't.  I can't really put my finger on why; there's a slightly meandering quality in places, the sound seems to be curiously lacking in depth and resonance…whatever it is, somehow I just lose interest.

This is a very personal response, so don't let me put you off.  Three top-quality musicians playing Bach together ought to be special and it may well be so for you, but for me this isn't one of Hille Perl's best recordings and I personally I can't really recommend it.

Sunday, 6 May 2018

de Visée - Pieces pour Théorbe & Guitare - Diaz-Latorre

Rating: 5/5

An excellent recording

I already have some dearly loved recordings of de Visée by Jose Miguel Moreno, Pascal Monteilhet and others but I was keen to try this after hearing Xavier Diaz-Latorre's excellent Stolen Roses disc – and I'm very glad I did, because it is just as good.

Latorre has chosen a fine programme of mixed pieces, intermingling the lighter sound of the Baroque guitar with the depth and resonance of the theorbo, which works extremely well.  De Visée's music is a delight throughout and he plays it with a virtuosic skill which makes it sound as though there is no real effort or skill involved.  He interprets it beautifully so that each piece has real meaning and I find the entire disc a real pleasure.

The performance is beautifully recorded, and if you have any interest in the music of this period I can recommend this very warmly – I love it.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Haydn - Divertimenti per il Pariton - Balestracci et al

Rating: 5/5

An excellent disc

I think this is an excellent disc.  Haydn wrote well over 100 baryton trios for his not-very-talented patron to play, some of which do show both the limits of the player and the reluctance of the composer.  The six trios chosen here, though, are all very good works and are beautifully played; the trio are all fine players and they really bring the music to life so that it shines with Haydn's trademark depth and wit.  The sound of the baryton is beautifully captured by the recording and the overall sound is excellent.

I have the Esterhazy Ensemble's recording of the complete Haydn baryton trios and also a very good single disc by the Netherlands Baryton Trio, but this outshines both in my view.  If you're looking for an excellently chosen and performed sample of the baryton trios, I can warmly recommend this.