Palladian Ensemble - Trios for 4 - Gramophone
That the Palladian Ensemble, as is their wont, adapt compositions, however scored, to their own instrumentation – the Leclair work here was originally for two violins and continuo, and in both the Quantz and Handel's Op. 2 No. 4 the transverse flute, rather than the recorder, was intended – need trouble no one, since considerable latitude in the choice of instruments was taken as a matter of course in the eighteenth century; and in the case of Leclair and Handel this material was used in orchestra form as well.
The programme has been artfully chosen to demonstrate the diversity of styles current at more or less the same period of time. The Handel sonatas, the earliest works here though not published until 1730, are fundamentally Italianate; Leclair, despite this overture in the French style, also displays gouts reunis; Telemann, catholic in his tastes, is happy to include robust folk influences; and Quantz, less contrapuntal and more galant than the others, looks ahead to pre-classical style. The present performances exude a sense of enjoyment in the verve the artists bring to the second and last movements of the Handel F major and the delicious lightness of the initial Allegro of the Quantz; and in the Telemann A minor (from the Essercizii musici) Pamela Thorby and Rachel Podger exhibit viruoso tonguing and bowing (though I feel the finale is too rushed). Equally attractive, however, is the shaping of affettuoso movements, notably the Grave of the Telemann G minor. The Largo of Handel's Op. 2 No. 1 can often sound lumbering, but the ensemble's adoption of the Andante speed indicated in the C minor version is much more convincing and effective. The only reservations I have about this disc – and they are very slight indeed – concern some of William Carter's contributions: his accents in the finale of Telemann's G minor Trio are rather too rumbustious, and in the lively first Allegro of Handel's Op. 2 No. 1 the archlute continuo is too dry.