ABC Classics 476 6996
reviewed by Neville Cohn
Suite for flute, violin and continuo: Pierre-Danican Philidor 9’13”
Sonata for cello and cello continuo: Joseph Bodin Boismortier 12’35”
Sonata for two violins in A minor: Louis Gabriel Guillemain 8’02”
Sonata No 2 for flute, violin and continuo: Jean Fery Rebel 8’13”
Trio Sonata in D Boismortier opus 50 No 6: 11’31”
There is no other place in Australia quite like New Norcia: a quaint monastic town north of Perth, Western Australia. Founded by Spanish Benedictine monks in the 1840s primarily as a religious and education mission to local Aborigines, it is now known as well for its fine olive oil and bakery.
With its first rate acoustics, the Chapel of St. Ildephonsus is an ideal venue for recordings. And this compilation is yet another in a series devoted to music of the French baroque, recorded by musicians steeped – and expert – in the tradition of period performance practice. This, though, is not for a moment to suggest that the performances are drably academic or tedious. On the contrary, recorded under the benevolent gaze of emeritus David Tunley, that pre-eminent authority on the French baroque, the performers wear their scholarship lightly; there is nothing remotely dry about these performances.
This recording is a cornucopia of musical delights, not least Boismortier’s Sonata for cello and cello continuo. Recorded sound quality is first rate with the most agreeable tonal bloom, an impression enhanced by phrasing of undeviating finesse. Moods are impressively evoked; the grave pace of the Sarabande could hardly have been bettered and the Giga is most sensitively presented. An account of Guillemain’s Sonata for two violins makes for no less agreeable listening; it is a model of stylistic integrity, as are all the items of this CD. They come across as fresh as the morning, readings to return to again and again.
How fortunate we are in Western Australia to have in our midst musicians of such high order who routinely scale Olympus. Indeed, recordings such as these will remind listeners everywhere that, although Western Australia is very far away from the main routes of the international concert circuit, there are high-calibre musicians among us who are better than most and second to few. And that is abundantly evident in this fifth volume of recordings in the Perfection of Music series.