Portraits & Caractères

Floral design

Martin Gester harpsichord, Stéphanie Pfister violin
Lidi 0301314-17
Music by Corrette, Duphly & Mondonville

[dropcap]C[/dropcap]orrette can rarely have had it so good! Three of the discs in my current heap contain at least one sonata from his op. 25, this one claiming to be a first recording, though as it is duplicated on one of the others I have, I’ll leave the artists and/or their recording companies to sort that one out!

This is a very satisfying programme overall, two harpsichord/violin duos (Mondonville as well as the Corrette) being framed and separated by groups of harpsichord ‘solos’ (some of which have subsidiary violin parts) drawn from Duphly’s 2nd and 3rd books. In these Martin Gester plays with an exemplary blend of control and relaxed authority, making full but sensible use of his fine instrument (a copy of the Russell Collection’s remarkable 1769 Taskin). Once or twice I felt he was over-stretching the beat, but this is a tiny issue. More of an issue is the balance between violin and harpsichord in the duos. In general, and given that the keyboard is often the primary instrument, I feel that the violin is too forward in the aural picture and that there are also places where its material is “accompanimental” and simply should be played a little more softly. The supporting material (Eng/Fre) is sound though white print on a dark red background doesn’t make for the easiest reading.

David Hansell

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