Les Inventions / Patrick Ayrton

Joseph Touchemoulin: Concertos & Symphonies

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Joseph Touchemoulin (if you try this at home, don't get your fingers caught in it!), active in the middle of the 18th century, is an obscure figure of the early Classical era. French composers, living as they did in the best of all possible worlds, rarely traveled abroad like Germans, Bohemians, and Italians did, but Touchemoulin was the exception. Trained in Padua, he found employment in German courts at Bonn and at Regensburg in Bavaria. The styles revealed in this little sampler of his work are a mixture of Italian and German, with the former predominating in the highly virtuosic concertos for violin and for transverse flute, and the latter showing up in the two symphonies in the form of crescendos and ascending figures drawn on the style of the Mannheim School. The pieces heard here don't go far beyond those models, although they're pleasant enough. The most original work on the program is the Harpsichord Concerto in C major in the middle, in which the solo part calls the shots most of the way through. The historical-instrument group Les Inventions and its harpsichordist/director Patrick Ayrton deliver a smooth, fetching sound that's ideally suited to the music, and the graphics, showing a floral-patterned wooden block used for printing textiles, also deserve positive mention. The notes, which tell you all you ever wanted to know about Touchemoulin, are in English, French, and German.

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