Dornel: Livre De Simphonies Contenant 6 Suittes En Trio / Musica Barocca

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DORNEL Suites, op. 1: No. 1 in a; No. 2 in A; No. 3 in 3; No. 4 in D; No. 5 in G; No. 6 in e Musica Barocca (period instruments) NAXOS 8.570826 (69:06)

We know very little about the life of Louis-Antoine Dornel, who lived from 1680 until approximately 1756 or 1757 (Naxos’s tray liner gives an incorrect date of 1765 but gets it right in the insert notes). He had appointments as organist at Ste Madeleine-en-la-Cité in Paris and the abbey of Ste Geneviève, as well as music master of the Académie Française, where he was required to write an annual motet for the feast of St Louis. His motets received praise in the Mercure de France , but none of them have survived.

The six works recorded here were published as Dornel’s op. 1, entitled Livre de symphonies contenant six suittes en trio pour les flutes, violins, hautbois, & c. avec Sonate en Quatuor . Each starts with either a prelude or a two-movement overture followed by four, five, or six dance movements. Dornel’s relative obscurity compared with his more-recorded late Baroque contemporaries apparently has nothing to do with his ability as a composer. The music here is inventive and enjoyable. However, I did find it better to listen to these works in a couple of sessions rather than straight through.

Part of the reason for this “ear fatigue” can, I think, be attributed to the interpretation. Musica Barocca’s playing is not at fault; the performances are excellent. But I question the decision to entrust the two solo lines to voice flute, a type of alto recorder. Although the score mentions flutes, violins, or oboes, there is, of course, no reason why interpreters cannot choose other solo instruments. But I found the voice flute to be a bit overwhelming after listening to a couple of these works, and would have welcomed some variety. Also, judging from scores I downloaded from the Internet, it appears that some of these works had to be transposed to be played by the voice flutes; the insert notes make no mention of this fact.

The recording does not include the Sonate en quatuor that was published as part of op. 1; there was not enough room on the disc for it. However, the Sonate can be found on a disc entitled “The Sultan and the Phoenix” on Signum, which includes works by seven other French Baroque composers. This is the first complete recording of the six suittes en trio ; I find only one of the suites available elsewhere on a Glossa recording. The music is worth getting to know, and the recording will provide enjoyment. But there is room for another recording using different solo instruments and with all works recorded in their original keys.

FANFARE: Ron Salemi

Product Description:

  • Catalog Number: 8570826

  • UPC: 747313082674

  • Label: Naxos

  • Composer: Louis Antoine Dornel

  • Orchestra/Ensemble: Musica Barocca

  • Performer: Juan Estevez, Lisete da Silva, Maria Martinez, Mauricio Buraglia, Nicholas Stringfellow