Here's a stateside attempt to duplicate the virtuoso programs of French Baroque music coming from northwestern Europe, issued by the ambitious little Chicago label Cedille. There's much to like, above all the chronologically varied program that gives the listener a real feel for the development of French music over the 75 years from Lully to Couperin to Rameau, with detours into the music of Marin Marais, Jean-Féry Rebel, and Jean-Marie Leclair besides. The tendency in programming French Baroque music is to focus on the works of a single composer and to plow through multiple suites of dances, an approach that can be claustrophobic if taken too far. The Trio Settecento, influenced by but not strictly following historical performance practice, goes to the opposite pole with unusual pieces like Marin Marais' gamba piece La Guitare and the Rameau Quatrième Concert with its blistering keyboard parts. You come away with a real sense of how each composer used the conventions of the style: the ornaments, the court dances (compare the three chaconnes by Marais, Couperin, and Leclair), the attempt at musical portraiture. Violinist Rachel Barton Pine cultivates an elegantly plain, low-vibrato tone that's nicely matched by the agile gamba playing of John Mark Rozendaal. But David Schrader's harpsichord, though plenty fast in the Rameau, lacks rhythmic flexibility and sometimes has a plodding quality. The first half of the program consists of a Divertissement whose rationale is mysterious, and the sound is a bit raw. In general, though, this effort benefits from an X factor coming from the players' obvious enjoyment of the music's wealth, and it offers promising signs for the struggling U.S. Baroque scene.
AllMusic Review by James Manheim
|Ballet Royal de Flore|
|Les Goûts réunis|
|Sonate Huitième en Ré mineur|
|Sonata en Sol majeur|