Festival Vancouver 

The Apotheosis of the French Baroque
Thursday, 7 August 2008 @ 8.00 pm • UBC School of Music Recital Hall

Performers Marc Destrubé and; Chantal Rémillard, violins; Wilbert Hazelzet, traverso; Matthew Jennejohn, oboe; Jaap ter Linden, violoncello and viola da gamba; Jacques Ogg, harpsichord

Reviewer Elizabeth Paterson

The Apotheosis of the French Baroque, Vancouver Early Music Festival's concert this Thursday evening, lived up to its billing presenting the audience with prime gems from the French court between 1715 and 1743.

Working backwards in time, the concert began with Sonate en quatuor by L.-G. Guillemain, a highly-respected and admired musician at the court of Louis XV. This was a lovely choice for an opener, presenting in the first three movements typical liveliness, expressive warmth, and grace.

The fast, final movement exemplified in full the conversational nature of Baroque chamber music, intelligent argument and lively discussion amongst friends, full of wit, humour, and good nature.

Next on the programme was Rameau’s Pièces de clavecin en concert, No. 5, written two years earlier. This was something of a disappointment as to my ears it was given a rather dry, academic performance, yet it can be haunting. Nevertheless, Jacques Ogg’s beautifully articulated harpsichord playing led an elegant and polished performance.

No. 4 from Telemann’s Paris Quartet Book rounded out the programme's first half, and here the performers shone. The quartet structure frequently breaks apart into duets of various configurations. Vancouver’s own Marc Destrubé (violin) played with perfectly controlled emotion.

Jaap ter Linden (viola da gamba) seems, like a singer, to be part of his instrument. He played with elegance and lyricism and such an active response to the music it seemed newly composed. Wilbert Hazelzet’s flute added a wonderfully melodious and pure sound, utterly seductive. Underpinning them all, Jacques Ogg provided a strong and consistent pulse and a delicate touch.

The second half of the programme consisted of a single piece, 8ème Concert dans le goût théatral, drawn from Couperin’s Les Gouts réunis. Written around the time of the death of Louis XIV, Les Gouts réunis deliberately combines both French and Italian styles to unite them as equal inspirations.

Huitième concert dans le gout theatrical begins with an overture in the French style which is followed by various airs and dances. Chantal Rémillard (violin), Katrina Russell (bassoon), and Matthew Jennejohn (oboe) joined the other players seamlessly. The understated, clear, and graceful style chosen by the group allowed all the colour and contrasts of each of the airs and dances to bloom.

For an encore, the artists returned to the latter part of the 18th century with L’Art du modulation by François-André Danican Philidor, in which we heard new explorations of harmony and sonorities, making a satisfyingly intelligent and musical close to a very fine evening.

© 2008 Elizabeth Paterson