DELIGHTS FROM THE AGE OF INDULGENCE
Just on the outside chance that you may have not heard of François-André Philidor, Michel Blavet, or Jean Pierre Guignon – all three of the same generation (more or less) that reigned musically during the reign of Louis XIV and a bit into the troubled years of Louis XV – allow this superb group of Baroque specialists that call themselves Les Délices (www.lesdelices.org )to introduce you to the delectable music of these three French masters.
In the CD, Age of Indulgence, Messieurs Philidor, Blavet and Guignon keep comfortable company with Jean Philippe Rameau, the giant who literally wrote The Book that pretty much defined the tenets of 18th music for France and beyond.
But lest all this musicological babble send you running for the nearest exit into the easy listening Gallic land of Debussy and Ravel, let me entreat you to seek out this treasure and purchase it from www.NavonaRecords.com, whether digitally or in hard copy.
I obtained a sample reviewer’s copy but, rest assured, I would drive all the 284 miles between the Queen City and the Mistake by the Lake, playing this CD on my car radio just so I could hear oboist Debra Nagy, violinists Julie Andrijeski and Karina Schmitz, violoncellist Emily Wallhout and harpsichordist Michael Sponseller dispense their musical delights in concert.
Baroque music does not sound…well…Baroque (!) unless it is played with period instruments: violins and cellos with gut strings, wooden oboes and, most importantly, with the flair and muscularity that this Cleveland-based five-person ensemble elicits. They play almost without vibrato, which in simple terms means that they have to be dead-on pitch or else. They are. No matter how intricate the divisions and ornamentations, no matter how long the phrases, they individually and as an ensemble land on the musical bull’s eye time and again. Lucas Paquette, the engineer of record does a superb job keeping the sound up front and intimate.
The music-making of Les Délices is lively and elegant and mercifully never ever pedantic, all the time reminding us that Baroque music – whether for the stage or the salon of the King – was and is entertainment.
Rafael de Acha