This new release from Glossa Music www.glossamusic.com features Paolo Pandolfo (viola da gamba) www.paolopandolfo.com, Amelie Chemin (viola da gamba), Thomas Boysen (theorbo and baroque guitar) www.thomasboysen.de and Markus Hünninger (harpsichord) www.scb-basel.ch/index/112088
Paolo Pandolfo studied with Jordi Savall www.jordisavall.es at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basle, Switzerland before, in 1982, becoming a member of Savall's ensemble Hesperion XX. He played with them, throughout the world, until 1990, making dozens of recordings, among them Bach's Die Kunst der Fuge (The Art of Fugue), John Dowland’s Consort music and Neapolitan Renaissance Music. In 1990, after the success of his first recording as a soloist (C.P.E.Bach's Sonatas for Viola da Gamba), he was nominated as Professor of viola da gamba at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel. Pandolfo performs all over the world, playing with artists such as Emma Kirkby, Rolf Lislevand, Rinaldo Alessandrini, Mitzi Meyerson, José Miguel Moreno and many others. Since 1992 he has directed Labyrinto, a group of four or five viola da gamba, dedicated to consort music repertoire.
Pandolfo has made recordings for Astree, EMI, Philips, Erato, Harmonia Mundi, Tactus, Simphonia but, since 1997, all of his recordings are by the Spanish record company Glossa. His first unaccompanied recital, A Solo, was nominated as one of the best releases of the year by Gramophone in 1998.
François Couperin (1668-1733) wrote his Première Suite and Deuxième Suite pour viole de gambe et continuo in 1728. These pieces form part of a collection that was believed to have been lost, until discovered in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris.
In the opening prelude of the Première Suite these players produce some lovely sounds in this melancholy piece. I love the way the music surges at key moments, providing lovely sonorities. There is an attractive allemande légère with the players handling the rhythmic changes beautifully. After the joyful Courante, the Sarabande grave‘s steady and stately sarabande has a solemn feel but, part way through, it opens out in a lovely section with impressive sounds from all the instruments.
The Gavotte really dances along at quiet a pace with some fine playing from the viols before a lovely bouncing gigue with some attractive intricate parts. Finally there is the flowing Passacaille on Chaconne, with much fine detail in the playing.
Before the Deuxième Suite pour viole de gambe et continuo we have the Douzième Concert (A deux violes) from 1724. In the Pointé-coulé there is lovely interplay between the two viols as the music bounces forward, in a marvellously played piece. The two violists intertwine wonderfully in the badinage and in a sad little Lentement et pathetiquement the players seem to reflect with each other on the mournful material. Gracieusement et legérèment is a happy, forward moving piece with a lovely little rhythmic motif.
The Prelude Deuxième Suite pour viole de gambe et continuo opens with some lovely crisp chords from the viol players in this terrific canon. There is a playful fuguette where the music rushes forward in playing of lovely precision and ensemble and the Pompe funèbre, a slow, stately piece with some lovely sonorities as the instruments blend together. An amazingly fast La Chemise blanche receives some astonishing playing with the players really going for it, to end this wonderful work.
Treizième Concert (A deux violes) like the Douzième Concert is also from 1724. The Vivement is a lovely vibrant piece which receives excellent playing from the two viol players. The Air (agréablement) is played with much care and thoughtfulness and Saranbande (lendrement) is another of Couperin’s lovely little sarabandes. A terrific Chaconne légère, full of forward thrust and energy gets some fine playing from the viol players.
This excellent disc concludes with Couperin’s Plainte pour les Violes (1724), a slow piece that allows these players to draw some lovely sounds from their instruments.
What I like about these players is their sense of spontaneity. They are not frightened to just go for it, something that allows them to give such spirited performances. The recording made in the Église Saint Didier, Rasteau, France is excellent.
Glossa’s presentation is excellent with the three fold card case having some lovely reproductions of a painting of Colbert présent les membres de l’Académi royale des sciences a Louis XIV by Henri Testelin (1616-1695). The integral booklet is excellent with notes by Couperin scholar Philippe Beausant and facsimiles of title pages and manuscripts of some of the works featured.
This is another fine Couperin disc to add to any collection.