[the Versailles Collection] - The Sun King's Paradise & Les Elemens / Palladian Ensemble
The Sun's King's Paradise
The music on this charming CD comes from the time of Louis XIV (1643-1715), often referred to as the Sun King. It is music of dalliance, yet contains great subtlety; and it is music meant to entertain the upper classes while making no particular social statement. Of particular interest is the suite by Jean-Féry Rebel, which is a synthesis of popular dances of the time. This concise nine-and-one-half-minute work presents a time capsule revue of more than a dozen dance forms, including corrente, menuet, sarabande, and gigue, all played without interruption by recorder, violin, bass viol, and theorbo. By contrast, a more melancholy side of the era emerges in Etienne Le Moine's Chaconne, a theorbo solo played with exceptional sensitivity by William Carter. The performances throughout are stylish and sensitive and the recorded sound close up and clear. Those listeners looking for a representative collection of music from this era will find that this CD fills the bill handsomely.
--Rad Bennett, ClassicsToday.com
This disc is "authentic" in two senses: in the selection of instruments as well as in the arrangement of the works for domestic performance. Actually, as the notes correctly point out, Rebel's full score doesn't really exist, so all versions are arrangements even though we know that he wrote the original for orchestra. Any suspicion that "Le Cahos" (Chaos) is going to lose some of its bite when played by recorder, violin, bass viol, and theorbo will be instantly dispelled on hearing the first chord, which nearly sent me through the ceiling. Still, I miss the tang of brass and percussion in the Tambourins and the silky tone of massed violins in the Air pour les Violins, however expert the playing on offer. This is simply a question of individual taste.
On the other hand, in the Marais Suite in A minor, drawn from a variety of pieces for one or two viols, the presence of the recorder enhances the music's color and charm, and the program rises to a truly triumphant conclusion with a brilliantly sustained romp through the composer's Folies d'Espagne. Best of all, Linn's sonics perfectly capture both the vivacity and intimacy of the performances, especially in multichannel format, where the players really do seem to be right in the room with you. You really can imagine yourself taking part in a convivial evening of Baroque music making, featuring the greatest hits of the day--and getting a naughty thrill at Rebel's startlingly dissonant representation of chaos. This is music for fun, and the performances fully convey its pleasures and delights.
--David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday.com
Catalog Number: CKD323
Label: Linn Records
Composer: Estienne Le Moine, Jean-Féry Rebel, Marin Marais
Orchestra/Ensemble: Palladian Ensemble
Performer: Pamela Thorby, Rachel Podger, Susanne Heinrich, William Carter