Peggie Sampson

Marais: Suites; Haydn: Sonatas

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The pairing of Marin Marais and Haydn may seem like an odd one, but the answer to the puzzle is found when one reads the performer biographies and discovers that they refer to exploits of the 1960s and 1970s. These are reissues from early in the era of historical performance, when both Haydn performed on the harpsichord and Marais performed on anything at all. Once one adjusts the ear for those conditions, the disc emerges as an intriguing one. Someone had to pave the way for the rediscovery of Marais, and viol player Peggie Sampson, a cellist who took up Baroque instruments late in life, was one of the musicians who did. Both she and harpsichordist Susanne Shapiro avoid the monotonous quality that was so common in Baroque performances of the era (there is no indication of the exact date or place where this music was recorded), and the four Haydn sonatas on the disc have a lively flexibility. Booklet notes and even the track list are rudimentary. The Haydn sonatas are identified only by key (they are from the set of six published in 1776), and each one is given only a single track -- there's no easy way for DJs or even just listeners wanting a closer hearing to cue the individual movements. The sound is rather harsh, and nothing on the disc is state-of-the-art, but this is a listenable release for those interested in the early history of early music.

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