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

A generous selection of French Baroque music, played on recorder and accompanied by lute, theorbo and Baroque guitar instead of keyboard. This works well, as the two instruments are better matched acoustically. French composers appreciated the recorder's expressive quality and used it to suggest pastoral moods as well as deep sadness, and the works on this disc display these extremes. Try the slow opening movement of Anne-Danican Philidor's D minor sonata for an outstanding display of the instrument's melancholy side. Pamela Thorby's playing is pitched perfectly - she never over-emotes and doesn't overdo the vibrato - I listened to this recording from start to finish without ever growing fidgety.

There's a lot of dash and sparkle in the faster numbers; Louis Caix d'Hervelois's minature Papillon floats as it should, and there's a delightful Gigue at the close of Charles Dieupart's F minor suite. And so good to have Robert de Visée's Suite in D minor for theorbo played with such consummate skill by Elizabeth Kenny - 12 minutes of glorious, velvety darkness, and completely new to me. This is a superb issue, stunningly produced and recorded.
01 December 2010