Here is a highly engaging disc that should not be limited to admirers of early music. More people have heard Pamela Thorby than are aware of having done so; she has been included in several of Karl Jenkins’s Adiemus projects. (She also is a member of the Palladian Ensemble.) I’m sorry if anyone reading this likes Karl Jenkins, but her talents are better used here than there. Elizabeth Kenny is also a solo artist in her own right; a Hyperion CD of hers (Flying Horse) was released last year. Individually, each musician is a delight. Together, they enjoy a special musical rapport, and the delight therefore is not doubled but squared.
Thorby plays several instruments on this disc, all of them modern copies of period instruments.Read more The “voice flute” used in the Dieupart is a tenor recorder in D. The “fourth flute” is a soprano recorder in B?. Kenny plays three separate instruments, and again, each one is a modern copy.
The booklet indicates that “all performing and recorded editions of these works have been made by Pamela Thorby and Elizabeth Kenny from facsimiles of the original manuscripts.” In other words, there are few works specifically intended for this combination of instruments, and Thorby and Kenny have engaged in the defensible practice of arranging the music for this program. For example, the three selections by Couperin originated as works for harpsichord. In the works by Louis Caix d’Hervelois, Anne-Danican Philidor (a man, in spite of his given name, and one of many musical Philidors), and Charles Dieupart, a recorder part already existed, but Kenny’s part had to be created from the basso continuo or harpsichord part. (I apologize if I don’t have these details exactly right, but the booklet note is not ideally clear about what originally was composed for whom.) Nothing about the arrangements sounds contrived, though, or unsympathetic to the spirit of the music.
By the same token, the spirit of the music has been honored through Thorby’s and Kenny’s performances, which are fluid, as if they had been created on the spot. There’s nothing reverent and metronomic about this playing. These are not jazz musicians, of course, and these composers did not compose jazz, but something of jazz’s spontaneity, continuous dialogue, and flexibility informs all of the music-making on this disc.
The music itself is pretty terrific, too. Dieupart’s Suite No. 6, for example, is tender, fragile, and poignant, like a romantic memory that, although distant, still retains its power to evoke regretful contemplation. The works by Robert de Visée (Kenny’s opportunities to have the spotlight to herself on this disc) have a grave (but not morbid) dignity that makes them perfect for late-night listening. No wonder that, according to the booklet notes, Louis XIV requested this composer-performer’s musical services on occasion in the bedchamber of the ruler himself.
Reading the headnote, the origins of the nightingale are obvious, but what about the butterfly? The suite by d’Hervelois contains a movement marked “Papillon,” so there you go. It floats and flutters artlessly.
Linn’s engineers have provided sound that is intimate, warm, detailed, and finely balanced. As long as you keep the volume at realistic levels, the engineering will provide as much enjoyment as the performances and the repertoire.
-- Raymond Tuttle, FANFARE [11/2010]
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players. Read less