DANDRIEU; CORELLI Sonatas
Le Consort’s decision to record these six sonatas by Jean-François Dandrieu, an obscure 18th-century French composer best known for his treatise on basso continuo-playing, speaks of a wisdom and humility beyond their years. In their booklet notes, Le Consort remind us that Dandrieu was only 23 years old when he published his Op 1 and that, by ‘happy coincidence’, this was also the age when they first met – indeed, these were the very sonatas that they played at their first rehearsal. Again, let age not fool you: this group of twenty-somethings make a sound that is rich in refinement and intelligence.
The music itself is unlikely to take the Baroque world by storm. There are, however, a scattering of spectacular moments. The cello-playing of Hanna Salzenstein is sumptuous and sprightly in equal measure, propelling the group forwards in exhilarating motion and bountiful resonance in the Allegro of No 1. Not to be outdone, the violinists give as good as they get in the Vivace from No 5. Corelli’s influence on Dandrieu is most obvious in the following Adagio. Le Consort could do more to bring out the squeeze of dissonance, to test the limits of intensity possible on the recorded medium. Elsewhere they demonstrate a clever ear and willingness to experiment with textures. The Giga from No 1, though not at all gigue-like in tempo or affect, is luxurious in figuration. And though some might find the pizzicato Vivace movements from Sonata No 4 a tad kitsch, a little kitsch never hurt anyone. Justin Taylor, as expected, provides continuo realisations that are generous and joyful. His unobtrusive brilliance comes to the fore in the Ciacona from Corelli’s Sonata Op 2 No 12 that closes the disc.