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Music of the French Baroque
Jean Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Pièces de clavecin en concert (du 5ème concert) (1741): La Forqueray [4.17]; La Cupis [6.07]; La Marais [2.27]
Pièces de clavecin en concert (du 3ème concert) (1741?): Tambourins 1 et 2 [2.13]
George Philip TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Chaconne du “Quatuor Parisien” (1630-38?) [4.17]
Marin MARAIS (1656-1728)
L’Arabesque (?) [2.37]
Antonio VIVALDI (1678-1741)/ Nicolas CHÉDEVILLE (1705-1782)
Sonata sesta dal “Pastor Fido” (1729?) [8.04]
Robert DE VISÉE (1655-1732/33)
La Grotte de Versailles (1680s?): Ouverture [3.03]; Musette [1.49]; Mascarade [1.05]
Charles DIEUPORT (1667-1740)
Cinquième Suite (1701): Ouverture [4.14]; Allemande [2.30]; Courante [1.38]; Prologue [0.40]; Sarabande [2.44]; Gavotte [0.45]; Menuet [1.03]; Gigue [1.22]
Antoine FORQUERAY (1671-1745)
La Couperin (pub 1749?) [4.38]
Il Gardino Armonico (Giovanni Antonini (flute); Enrico Onofri (violin); Vittorio Ghielmi (viola da gamba); Luca Pianca (lute); Ottavio Dantone (harpsichord))
Natalie Gal and Uta Gruber (dancers)
Musica et Saltatoria/Kasper Mainz
rec. Hellbrunn Pleasure Palace, Salzburg, Austria, 2002
Picture Format: 16.9; Region Code: 0; Sound Formats: PCM stereo, DD 5.0, DTS 5.0
ARTHAUS MUSIC 100 395 [60:00]

This companion DVD to Il Giardino Armonica’s collection of Italian Baroque Music (Arthaus 100 011) concentrates on the French equivalent. It introduces some lesser-known composers besides the more familiar Rameau, Telemann and Marais. Marais’s music was popularised by Jordi Savall’s vivacious performances in the film Tous les matins du monde.
Mercifully the visuals for this film, unlike those dreamt up for the Italian Baroque programme are less bizarre and distracting. Here the backgrounds were filmed, strangely enough in Austria not France, at Salzburg’s Hellbrunn Palace - why not Versailles? - famous for its mystic grottoes, water-powered figures and trick fountains. In fact during the Vivaldi/Chédeville sequence the performers are seen through a curtain of water fountaining through the seats of the chairs at a garden-located dining table. All were designed to embarrass and soak unsuspecting guests.
Rameau’s style will be familiar and his music presented here is the most satisfying in this programme for its melodies and harmonies. His richly harmonised and ornamented keyboard pieces - Le Forqueray; the mournful La Cupis and the cheery La Marais - from the fifth concert, have charm and eloquence. Telemann’s Chaconne du “Quatuor Parisien” has a leisurely stateliness. Vivaldi’s name has been given to a none-too-interesting piece by, according to the notes, the publishers of theSonata sesta dal “Pastor Fido” by French composer Nicolas Chédeville. By contrast the little Marais piece is a charming dance.
Of the remaining works, I warmed most to Robert de Visée’s La Grotte de Versailles. It features Luca Pianca’s exquisite lute-playing. The relaxing central Musette has an almost hypnotic lullaby quality. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about Charles Dieupart’s Cinquième Suite yet there are one or two interesting moments to be sure and the dancers are all grace and proud refinement in the Menuet and Gigue. Forqueray’s La Couperin is more appealing and more characterful, and even more progressive. The cello is stern and forceful serving to ground the lute’s lighter persuasions.
An adventurous French Baroque programme that should appeal to devotees of the genre.
Ian Lace