Notes and Editorial Reviews
Ouverture for Recorder in a. Fantasias: in b; in e; in A. Concerto for Recorder and Viola da gamba in a
Julien Martin (rcr); Josh Cheatham (vdg); Skip Sempé (hpd); cond; Capriccio Stravagante
PARADIZO 2 (61:19)
Paradizo is a new label created by Skip Sempé, devoted to the state-of-the-art interpretation and presentation of Baroque and Renaissance music. Sempé’s own ensemble, Capriccio Stravagante, figures prominently in this venture. French recorder-player Julien Martin is a solo
member of Capriccio Stravagante, and was awarded the Capriccio Stravagante Prize (“to recognize and support exceptional individuality and talent in the fields of Baroque and Renaissance music”) in 2002.
This is a wonderful disc. Sempé and Martin have selected some of Telemann’s most characteristic and appealing works for recorder—both solo and with other instruments—and have performed them in such a way as to set new standards for suaveness. The recorder is a difficult instrument to control, but Martin is the master of his instruments. In the booklet, he reveals that he uses two modern recorders based on 18th-century models by Denner—a “voice flute” in D for the fantasias, and an alto recorder in F for the rest. One seldom hears such perfection of pitch and refinement of tone from the recorder, and both Martin and the modern maker (Ernst Meyer) are to be congratulated.
As for Sempé and Capriccio Stravagante, their support has uncommon personality. As Sempé comments, “The projection of character of a musical composition relies almost exclusively on images and gestures, and the resulting gestures serve to remove the predictability of stiff music making.” The playing here is anything but stiff. The quick movements really dance and strut, without heaviness. The slow movements sing, and are so flexible as to seem almost spontaneous. All in all, the buoyancy of the musicianship makes this a disc which is not merely pleasant, but memorably so.
A more technical comment: the discreet use of harpsichord and organ together in the continuo adds to the character of these performances. Sometimes that can seem like too much of a good thing, but here it is just right.
The recording venue is not identified, but it is very appropriate, especially in the fantasias, because the generous reverberation sketches in the implied harmonies. In the other works, the listener is brought close to the ensemble, but is not stifled by it. Performance standards in this repertoire have gone higher and higher over the last several decades, and just when I thought that a plateau had been reached, Martin, Sempé, and Capriccio Stravagante come along and raise the standard even further. I’ll look forward to hearing more from these artists, and from this label.
FANFARE: Raymond Tuttle
Works on This Recording
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