Dan Laurin recorder, Anna Paradiso harpsichord, Domen Marinčič cello
Music by Blavet, Chédeville, Chéron, Dieupart, Hotteterre, Leclair, Marais & Philidor
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he royal monopoly on printing and distributing music produced a distinctive French style of music which was only affected by outside influences with the arrival of the Concert Spirituel in 1725. These public concerts were held in the Tuileries Palace during lent and other religious holidays when the opera houses were closed, and the very first one included Corelli’s Christmas concerto as well as two motets by Lalande. Works by other foreign composers such as Telemann and Vivaldi were sometimes included, though for some time the confrontation between the French and Italian styles caused much controversy. By the time the first composer on this disc, Nicolas Chédeville, published his set of sonatas Il Pastor Fido in 1737, it was to his advantage to publish them under Vivaldi’s name rather than his own. This piece is one of the few on this disc where the treble recorder is included in the list of suitable instruments, amongst a variety of others including the musette and viele. Most of the other music was composed for the transverse flute but Dan Laurin gets over this problem by using the voice flute, or recorder in D, rather than transposing the music up a minor third. This works very well, though occasionally I missed the extra subtlety of expression which a flute can produce, and there are one or two slightly uncomfortable high notes. Laurin’s playing is brilliant as always, and it is fascinating to hear how he incorporates into it the essential elements of the French style. So many performers are inhibited by Hotteterre’s instructions on how to ornament his music. Not so Laurin, who uses all the flattements, inégalité, wide trills and other graces to produce a sparkling performance. His own extraordinary arrangement for solo recorder of the Marais Folies d’Espagne for bass viol and continuo is surprisingly effective though I rather missed Anna Paradiso’s splendid harpsichord playing which is so essential to creating the mood of all the other music. Slovenian cellist Domen Marinčič is an equal partner in all the pieces with a particularly interesting bass line. I shall certainly be returning to this disc which, with music published between 1701 and 1740, presents a most enjoyable picture of the way musical styles developed in France over these forty years.