Flanders Recorder Quartet & Saskia Coolen
Music by J. S. Bach, Boismortier, Lully, Schein, Schein + 20th/21st-century music
This recital CD mixes contemporary and early music, the former written for recorders the latter generally arranged from a variety of sources. From its hip title to its pixilated picture of the players, this CD is almost trying too hard to make recorders cool, but – having said that – there is some truly lovely recorder playing here with warm, exquisitely blended tone, exemplary articulation and a high level of musical intelligence. The modern music often demands a hair-raising level of individual and group virtuosity, and is imaginative, catchy and wonderfully idiomatic for recorders. Unfortunately, by comparison, much of the Renaissance and Baroque music sounds a little staid by comparison, but the playing by the expanded quartet is never less than deeply artful, and the accounts of consort music by Johann Hermann Schein, which could conceivably have been played on recorders at the time, are particularly beautiful. Primarily this type of programme is simply a recital put on disc, and none the worse for that – and they say variety is the spice of life. For stunning unanimity of purpose in a recorder consort listen to track 19, the Allegro of a Boismortier concerto, but who would imagine that even an expanded quartet would need to employ twenty-nine instruments? OK, recorder playing is cool after all, and, from the impressive list of top instrument makers, apparently rather lucrative too.
D. James Ross