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Friday, February 22, 2019

Boismortier, Music for Flute, Viola da Gamba and B.C., Umbra Lucis Ensemble

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine the other day and the topic of Boismortier came up (which tells you of course that this friend is very much into music). If the level of invention is often somewhat stronger in a Couperin and a Bach, why pay Boismortier any mind? My friend made me think about this and a little while later I have this answer to start today's blog. Because Boismortier is so handily a composer of his time that you feel a part of everyday life in the Baroque when you hear a fine performance of his music. The invention is very characteristic and rather than being transported out of the time to some timeless realm of the Musical Gods, you are in effect eavesdropping on a musical event from the vantage of hundreds of years in the future. So Boismortier puts you into a time machine, while Bach opens the gates of paradise? Something like that.

And so all this is possible for me today listening to a nicely turned program of his Music for Flute, Viola da Gamba and B.C. (Brilliant 95754). On it we are treated to the Umbra Lucis Ensemble performing  some eight works for varying ensembles. There are three groups of "Pieces de clavecin," a "Trio Sonata" for recorder, viola da gamba and basso continuo, works for one or more recorders and b.c. or just harpsichord, and a Suite for viola da gamba and b.c.

The continually shifting ensembles that varyingly feature in authoritative fashion the principals of Stefano Bagliano on recorder, Fabrizio Lepri on viola da gamba and Stefano Lorenzetti on harpsichord continually freshen the ear with the novelty of ensemble grouping. The principals are further supplemented in the course of the program with two additional recorders when called for and a second viola da gamba player to form a part of the basso continuo as needed on the da gamba and b.c. suite.

The players seem in every way true-to-form with their approach to the original instruments and instrumentation. The resonance of the viola da gamba both within the basso continuo and as a solo voice is a remarkable thing when done properly as it surely is done here. The entire program is ravishingly characteristic. But then recorder(s) and harpsichord made an unmistakable period impression on your listening mind as well. If you might not wake in the middle of the night humming Boismortier, you also will not feel like he was just virtually, musically twiddling his thumbs to create piles and quantities of music for the sake of it. He was careful and eloquent in these works, so there you go!

For the Brilliant price it is something of a Godsend for all who love the French Baroque like me, or the viola da gamba, harpsichord, and/or recorder or who are not sure and would like to hear more of it all.

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