Ariane & Orphée: French Baroque Cantatas

Hasnaa Bennani, ensemble Stravaganza
60:26
muso MU009
Music by Courbois, Jacuet de la Guerre, Lambert, Marais & Rameau

The most positive impressions on this CD are made by the instrumental music and its performances. The Sonata in D minor from Jacquet’s 1707 collection confirms the impression given by my other anniversary experiences of her music that she is so much more than the French Baroque’s ‘token woman’ and the lively Marais Chaconne that ends the programme is very fine indeed. The instrumentation need not be so elaborate, but at least is not silly. I found the cantatas harder to enjoy, wonderful though the music is. Hasnaa Bennani’s vibrato just doesn’t ‘go’ with the instrumental sounds around her, especially when her line is in close proximity to that of the violin. The essay tries a bit too hard to link the instrumental and vocal music though is essentially sound and informative and the booklet also includes the sung French texts and an English translation thereof. Page 12, however, is just weird and could have been used to tell us something about the performers.

David Hansell