Style fantastique by Le Concert Brise


Le Concert Brise, Style fantastique, with William Dongois, cornetto, Carpe Diem Records (CD 16280), 2010.

Recorded Live October 28-31, 2009 in the Musee d’art et d’histoire de Neuchatel, Switzerland; straight cornetti at 440 Hz and 520 Hz after German original by Henri Gohin.

The title of this recording sums it up: this is indeed a fantastic recording. The liner notes written by William Dongois provide an excellent backdrop for one to appreciate properly the style fantastique. The works by Giovanni Antonio Pandolfi-Mealli included on the recording follow in the virtuosic style of Girolamo Fontana and Dario Castello. However, his virtuosic demands begin where the other composers have finished.

William Dongois negotiates the countless roller-coaster-like passages with complete control, elegance, and élan. The works are varied in style and affect. Indeed, while countless treacherous technical passages abound, each sonata contains lovely lyrical sections. These in turn vary in affect: some whimsical, some with pathos, some with simply pure beauty. Dongois addresses each in a special way, but always with charm, artfully-shaped phrases, and heart.

The three works by Johann Jakob Froberger included on the recording are solo vehicles for keyboardist Carsten Lohff and lutenist Eric Bellocq. These compositions are less technical than those of Pandolfi-Mealli and in that sense provide the record with balance. Still, they are style fantastique. Included are dance suites, a beautiful lamentation over the death of Ferdinand III, and freely composed fantasies. It is evident that great thought and preparation was devoted to these performances. They give one pause for thought and at the same time, they dazzle.

If this were not enough, one must take note of a very important aspect of this recording: It was recorded live in three performances over four days. In and of itself, this is a noble and “honest” approach. What are the results? The performance of Le Conncert Brise is astonishing and exciting. Theirs is not a reserved approach. There is great emotion in all of the playing. Indeed, Dongois dazzles one with numerous high velocity breathtaking technical passages tossed off with great excitement, some of which ascend to high C and D, which he negotiates with great refinement. In the end, this recording has the perfection one has come to expect from products of a recording studio, but is also filled with the excitement and warmth only possible from a live performance. On every level this is an excellent and inspiring recording. It cannot be recommended too highly.

-- James Miller