Airs sérieux et à boire vol. 2
Les arts florissants, William Christie
harmonia mundi HAF8905306
Gosh! Have LAF really been around for 40 years? Well since I first heard them live in the early 1980s they might well have been, and in that time they have immeasurably enriched our knowledge and appreciation of their core repertoire – the music of 17th-century France. A number of their recent releases have featured particularly fine programming and this second volume airs of continues that welcome trend by hanging music by Camus, Lambert and Moulinié on the framework provided by the separated scenes of Charpentier’s Pastoraletta H492. There are some moments in the more animated ensembles where collective intonation is not wholly centred but the solo songs with theorbo and gamba are exquisite in both musical content and sonority. Indeed, it is true throughout the recital that the performances that draw us in rather than project themselves onto us are the more rewarding. Yes, there are a few questionable performance practice decisions involving the continuo team but nothing that spoils the party, even for me.
The booklet (French, English & German) includes a concise though very informative note and full texts and translations, and the recording quality is very good indeed.
I wonder if Lambert’s allusion to Dowland (track 14) was deliberate. In the context of a text reading ‘Let my tears flow’ it’s hard to think otherwise.