Ensemble Battistin

The Musicians' Table: Philidor, Boismortier, Guillemain, Rebel

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Australian label ABC Classics' The Musicians' Table features the Ensemble Battistin in Baroque chamber works of French composers Pierre Danican Philidor, Joseph Bodin de Boismortier, Louis-Gabriel Guillemain, and Jean-Féry Rebel. It is subtitled "The Perfection of Music: Masterpieces of the French Baroque" and appears to be the fifth disc in a series. Indeed, the disc is genteel, courtly, pleasant, and well-played, but save the Boismortier Sonata for Cello and Cello Continuo in D minor, Op. 50/4, the music is not terribly interesting. These are very typical kinds of pieces for the period, and even though the instruments, ornaments, and performance tradition all fit the repertoire here, none of these elements gives one much in the way of weapons to fight the feeling of boredom that inevitably sets in. Part of the problem is the programming in that all of the pieces are quite similar to one another, and taking The Musicians' Table in shorter doses might help; certainly for a high-class dinner party that wants entertainment, but not disruption, this disc might work well. However, for the active listener one might want the tabletop on the front cover to be loaded with several courses of food instead of littered with the instruments and music books pictured, just to have something to eat while this beauteous but sterile and characterless music plays on.

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