The Nightingale and the Butterfly - Pamela Thorby & Elizabeth Kenny - Gramophone

Conjuring up Watteau-esque images of pastoral music-making, Pamela Thorby and Elizabeth Kenny treat us to an array of timbres and expressive effects form a range of recorders and plucked instruments popular in France around the beginning of the 18th century. The title of the disc makes reference to pieces by Couperin (a transcription) and Caix d'Hervelois.

This is very much a duo recital. Kenny provides delightful theorbo solos by the 17th-century virtuoso Robert de Visée as well as enchanting accompaniments to Thorby's recorder playing. There is a wonderfully improvised feel about the Prélude to the D minor Suite, delightfully ornamented with understated cadences. She elucidates Visée's hierarchies within the musical textures of the Courante and uses silence artfully in the Sarabande. In the Passacaille she makes the theorbo sound like a Spanish guitar (an instrument she takes up to accompany Couperin's Le rossignol-en-amour). Best of all are her delicate, understated phrase-endings, which are a hallmark of the French style. When accompanying, she is nimble in the quick movements and elegantly conversational in the slower ones.

She produces a consistently bright, remarkably unmannered tone...Thorby is at her best in Caix d'Hervelois's restless Papillon and the sinuous La lionnoise, and in Couperin's masterful Le rossignol vainqueur.


07 October 2010