[Pierre Danican] Philidor: Suites for Flute[s] and B. C.

CD cover Philidor Suites for flute

Musica ad Rhenum
110:25 (2 CDs in a single jewel case)
Brilliant Classics 96032

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There is much well-mannered music and music-making here. The selections from Pierre Philidor’s Opp 1, 2 & 3 (pub. 1717/18) give us a judicious mixture of suites for solo flute and continuo and two unaccompanied flutes, and the continuo, when present, is ‘limited’ to harpsichord and bass viol. What a relief! The overall sonority is further enhanced by the low pitch (A=400Hz) which gives the bottom register of the flutes a rich ‘woodiness’. A particular feature of the notation of this music is the frequency with which battements and flattement (fingered vibrato) are requested, rather than being left to the player’s discretion. I wonder if Philidor felt that his contemporaries were too discreet in their application of these very French devices. Needless to say, all are included here, and their frequency may surprise some listeners even now.

The booklet (in English only) offers a note that manages to be both historical and personal in an engaging way, though there are no performer biographies.

David Hansell