Notes and Editorial Reviews
Bernard Labadie, cond; Dianne Lacelle (ob
); Marie-Andrée Benny (fl
); Les Violons du Roy
ATMA 2600 (65:00)
Canon and Gigue in D.
Chaconne in g.
Oboe Concerto in d.
BWV 1068: Air.
Serenade in G,
“Eine kleine Nachtmusik.”
Dance of the Blessed Spirits
You might say that the Québec-based Les Violons du Roy is a “hybrid” group. Formed in 1985 as a smallish string orchestra, the ensemble has played exclusively on modern instruments since its beginnings but uses period bows and historical performance practice for the earlier repertoire. The lightweight Baroque bow might seem incapable of controlling the steel E string of a modern violin, but the players clearly can dig in as well as anyone. In truth the group produces some of the most enticing string sounds on CD. The best illustration of this is its 1999 recording of Vivaldi string concertos (Dorian 90255), unfortunately no longer available. I return to this disc often; it is simply one of the most gorgeous-sounding recordings of Vivaldi string music in my library.
Les Violons du Roy plays at modern pitch, but this should not be an issue for Baroque music, since orchestras in Vivaldi’s time routinely tuned to a = 440 Hz, or even higher. Another laudable feature is the continuo contingent, which includes a prominent theorbo (doubling on Baroque guitar) and chamber organ in addition to harpsichord. The performers have clearly been steeped in the early-music style, but they don’t flaunt it the way other groups do. There is even a little vibrato now and then to warm up the sound. This is highly competent, expressive playing, but minus the overdone, incessant swelling of many period groups.
I should hasten to add that Les Violons du Roy players do not confine themselves to the Baroque. They’ve recorded an album of Bartók for Atma, and their SACD of the music of Astor Piazzolla, strangely overlooked by
, has been a best-seller.
The present potpourri disc, obviously aimed at the first-time collector, includes many of the Greatest Hits of the Baroque and Beyond. The opening Geminiani concerto grosso is played with such vitality and polish that I wish the group would make a complete recording of Geminiani its very next project. I didn’t need to hear the Canon and Gigue again, but at Bernard Labadie’s sprightly tempo, it’s almost palatable. The Marcello concerto receives a nuanced performance from oboist Dianne Lacelle (playing a modern instrument); the Bach sinfonia is likewise treated with loving care. Mozart’s “Eine kleine Nachtmusik” is played a bit more vigorously than usual; I prefer the integrity of this version to Andrew Manze’s rather fussy treatment on Harmonia Mundi. Finally, Gluck’s
Dance of the Blessed Spirits
benefits from the finely shaded playing of the group’s solo flutist, Marie-Andrée Benny.
The recorded sound is all that one could wish for: full-bodied yet realistic. If you are lacking any of these pieces in your library, this disc is the perfect way to acquire them. But I would urge you to check out some of the group’s other CDs on Atma, such as its stunning
, or its jammin’ SACD of the music of Piazzolla.
FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
Works on This Recording
Concerto for Oboe in D minor by Alessandro Marcello
Diane Lacelle (Oboe)
Les Violons du Roy
Written: by 1717; Italy
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