Dan Laurin

Evergreens from the Pleasure Garden

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These "evergreens from the pleasure garden" are excerpts from the complete version of Jacob van Eyck's Der fluyten lust-hof (The Pleasure Garden of the Flute) put on disc by Swedish recorder player Dan Laurin in 1999. To stroll through that garden, Laurin notes, "requires a good physique"; the complete set of solo recorder pieces clocks in at 10 hours and 24 minutes. The single disc is welcome, and it just may be engaging enough to get some listeners to splurge for the whole thing. Der fluyten lust-hof contains more than 140 pieces in all, of which 17 are given here. They were, in a way, popular music, sold for talented amateurs to try out in the booming cities of the Netherlands in the seventeenth century; Laurin's notes do a good job of putting this modestly sized but colorful music into context. The pieces vary in length from just over a minute and a half to more than 10 minutes, and they were intended to bring into the elegant households rendered by Vermeer a range of music from around the European continent -- van Eyck, a blind musician who was also a master carilloneur, was somewhere between composer and arranger. Thus one finds not only little songs but operatic-influenced material like Caccini's Amarilli mia bella, artfully reduced to recorder dimensions. There are also abstract pieces (Fantasia & Echo, track 5) and a few marvelous descriptive pieces such as Engels Nachtegaeltje (The English Nightingale), track 1. Laurin's notes to each piece are trenchant and fun, and his playing is a real marvel of agility and control, with pitch precision of the kind that only a few mighty masters and mistresses of the recorder manage to attain. He plays no fewer than six recorders of different sizes and materials, which also helps break up the program for those who may still think an entire disc of solo recorder music would be tough going. In short, if you want to own only one recorder disc, you might give serious consideration to having it be this one.

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