The Lully Effect
Jean-Baptiste LULLY (1632-1687)
Armide: Prologue – Overture; Act V scene 2, Passacaille (1686) [8:35]
Georg Philipp TELEMANN (1681-1767)
Overture (Suite) in e minor, for two flutes, two oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo, TWV 55:e3
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Suite (1739/1744) [35:17]
Indianapolis Baroque Orchestra/Barthold Kuijken
rec. 21-24 January 2013, Ruth Lilly Performance Hall, Christel DeHaan Fine
Arts Center, University of Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. DDD.
Quite some time ago Naxos introduced us to a very fine North American
baroque orchestra in the form of the Canadian Aradia Ensemble and Jean
Mallon, who have made some most attractive recordings for them. My own
favourite is a riotous performance of Handel’s Water Music and Fireworks
Music, complete with tambourine (8.557764: Bargain of the Month –
review). Not far behind is an earlier, equally lively recording of the music of
Lully entitled Ballet Music for the Sun King, also containing some
cheeky sounds (8.554003).
This seems to be the first recording by the period-instrument Indianapolis
Baroque Orchestra though not, of course, from their director, the flautist
Barthold Kuijken. They are a group of the size that could have performed in a
chateau at the time, effectively one to a part but sounding by no means
anaemic or under-powered. The bass part deliberately comes over as
I am surprised that we have had to wait so long – five years – for the
album to appear because it’s very fine. If anything, this now replaces the
Aradia Ensemble’s Sun King album as an inexpensive introduction to
the music of the period.
Better still, it would make an excellent next step after that recording.
Though labelled The Lully Effect, there’s only a smidgen of his
music here to open the programme in the form of two short extracts from his
opera-ballet Armide. The sprightly playing sets the tone for the
whole recording; if it inspires the listener to check out the longer
23-minute suite on Tudor, so much the better (Capriccio Baroque Orchestra,
TUDOR7185, with suites from Phaëton and Atys –
DL Roundup April 2012/2).1
Telemann’s music encompasses a range of styles but much of it,
especially his orchestral Overtures or Suites, was inspired by French
examples, in particular by the music of Lully. This Suite in e minor – NB:
not a quite different suite in E major, as advertised by some dealers – is not one of those most often
recorded, so you are unlikely to have a duplicate version. The only other
version that I know is on Brilliant Classics 93416, a 3-CD set forming
Volume 2 of the Complete Overtures and now rather more expensive as
a download only than when it was a budget-price set. (Excerpted from the
29-CD set, 94104 –
– itself now replaced by an enlarged 50-CD edition, 95150, target price
The rarity of this Suite should not put you off in any way: with prominent
parts for two flutes, it’s almost as enjoyable as Telemann’s better-known
Suite in a minor for recorder or flute, strings and continuo, TWV55:a2. Best of all,
it’s an ideal vehicle for Kuijken, as is the Rameau – plenty of flute
contributions in evidence here, too; he must have been tempted to join in.
The Dardanus Suite is the longest work here and it never outstays
its welcome. This is music to which I could listen until the proverbial
lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea.
There are several recordings of the Dardanus Suite, including one
from the European Union Baroque Orchestra directed by Roy Goodman on an
earlier Naxos recording (8.557490, with Platée and Pygmalion
DL News 2015/2). Kuijken’s suite is slightly different in composition from Goodman’s.
Where they choose the same music, as in the Overture and Tambourin I-II,
Goodman’s tempi are noticeably faster without sounding hurried. Kuijken
achieves his effect less from the chosen tempo, though he’s no slouch, but
more by his closer observation of period style, including bowing techniques
and ornamentation, the latter sounding natural and not stuck on as is
sometimes the case.
Incidentally, if you are looking for a recording of the a-minor suite
(TWV55:a2, not A2 as some have it) and the recent 9-CD Harmonia
Mundi collection is too much for you to take in –
– the splendid performance from that set with Maurice Steger (treble
recorder) and the Akademie für alte Musik can still be obtained on a single
CD (HMC901917, with Concerto in C and ‘Water Music’ – Hamburger Ebb’ und Fluth).
Other fine recordings of the a-minor come from Dan Laurin and Arte dei
Suonatori on BIS –
– download in 16- or 24-bit from
with pdf booklet – and from Giovanni Antonini with his Giardino Armonico
(Alpha ALPHA245: Recording of the Month –
review.) Big-box collectors will be attracted by Ricercar’s 9-CD Telemann
My press preview contained only CD1, including the a-minor Suite from the
Ricercar Consort, but that’s enough to confirm the recommendation for the
whole set. Another member of the musical Kuijken family, Sigiswald, directs
La Petite Bande, with Bart Coen (recorder) on Accent (ACC24288, with
TWV55:D6, TWV52:a1 and TWV43:G6). I was not alone in liking that rather more than Johan van
The advertising blurb for the new Naxos recording mentions grandeur,
finesse and diversity and for once that’s no exaggeration: these
performances deliver just those qualities and the recording does them
justice. Two fine sets of notes, from harpsichordist Thomas Gerber and
Barthold Kuijken, crown the achievement.
Naxos releases are no longer as inexpensive as were those earlier
recordings which I have mentioned, but this album of Lully-inspired
music is worth every penny of the £7 or so that you can expect to pay.
A lossless download should cost around £4.75; members can stream the
recording, with booklet, from
Naxos Music Library.
One way or another, you should try to hear these revelatory performances,
but don’t forget the earlier Goodman and Mallon recordings mentioned.
The classicsonline link no longer applies but subscribers to Naxos Music
Library can stream the recording