Pour la Duchesse du Maine

Floral design

ensemble La Française
55:00
Polynie POL 503 314
Music by Bernier, Bourgeois & Mouret

Praise be! A soprano whose vibrato is not the most prominent feature of her sound!! Marie Remandet sings the splendid cantatas by Bernier and Bourgeois with plenty of dramatic commitment but also some welcome self-control so that she does inhabit the same tonal and stylistic world as her instrumental colleagues. Her trills are not always perfect but that’s a price I’m more than willing to pay for what she does the rest of the time. The Duchesse that gives the programme its title was the colourful Louise Bénédicte de Bourbon, who maintained a rich socio-cultural milieu at the Château de Sceaux. None of this music can be directly associated with her, though Berbier’s fifth book of cantatas was entitled Les Nuits de Sceaux and Mouret was for a while ordinaire de la Musique da la duchesse du Maine. His Concert de Chambre is a suite (overture and dances) with unspecified instrumentation which suits the ensemble’s resident flute and violin (I’ll just about forgive them the piccolo in the Tambourin). Here as everywhere else they play with an impressive unity of purpose, with enough life in the continuo when needed, and make a strong case for this relatively unfamiliar repertoire. They do, however, need a better graphic designer (white print on a yellow background is doomed to illegibility) and translator: the English version of the essay struggles.

David Hansell