Giovanni Battista Fontana and Giovanni Gabrieli, Sonate et Canzone, Le Concert Brise, Accent Recordings (ACC 24250), 2013.
William Dongois, cornett and direction; Christine Moran, Alice Julien-Laferriere, violin; Stefan Legee, Franck Poitrineau, sackbut; Hadrien Jourdan, harpsichord and organ; Judith Pacquier, cornett; Matthias Spaeter, archlute; Carsten Lohff, harpsichord
Recorded June, 2013 at Notre-Dame-de-l’Assomption, Treffort, France; A=466
The offering of Le Concert Brise on this recording is elegant, stunning, and exciting. There are no “grand” works as such, yet there is grandeur in each selection. I recommend that one first read the liner notes by William Dongois which give the listener a wonderful historical/musicological entry into the recording. For example, when describing the Fontana sonatas, he mentions that they “are made up of numerous individual sections, each of which appears to tell a story.” Indeed, and our performers do well in their “story-telling” as they perform these sonatas. Dongois notes that while Fontana was a violinist and had that interest in mind for his sonatas, he also names the cornetto as the principal instrument for many of them. The listener will concur that Dongois’s playing fulfills Fontana’s compositional demands and desires with mastery, charm, purity of sound, and flare. Surely a highlight of this recording is Dongois’s performance of Fonatna’s Sonata VI. He tosses off the numerous technical passages found in it with ease. He always shapes his phrases with grace. Even those which are full of dazzling technical jumps and runs are polished and smooth. There is yet another quality of Dongois’s playing which deserves attention: his warm pure sound, especially in the upper register.
The cornetto playing of Judith Pacquier is deserving of high praise as well. She blends perfectly with Dongois in every way including in some very dazzling technical passages which she handles with ease and grace. The listener will want to note how well they are matched in Fontana’s Sonata XI: note the phrasing, articulation, execution of florid passages which are always performed with warmth and ease. Stefan Legee’ssacbut playing is excellent throughout. One has the opportunity to appreciate it best in Fontana’s Sonata XIII in which he has an extended solo section. He plays with excellent refined sound, intonation, and is always refined in his phrasing.
The disc closes with Le Concert Brise’s arrangement (for their specific instrumentation) of the well-known Canzon Duodecimitoni. It offers the listener, perhaps, a better window into this composition: one hears the individual lines with great clarity, and the entire ensemble performs it splendidly.
This recording by Le Concert Brise is a delight in so many ways. It is an intriguing program and the liner notes are informative and interesting. The performance of Le Concert Brise is both inspired and inspiring. The listener will appreciate both the highest level of virtuosity of its players, as well as an obvious commitment to playing as a unified ensemble. I highly recommend it.
-- Jim Miller