Lucie Horsch plays Vivaldi
It was big news earlier this year when Decca Classics signed Dutch teenager Lucie Horsch as its first-ever recorder player. So here now is her debut album, and perhaps rather predictably there’s an element of Ladybird Guide to the overall package, Decca clearly pitching to those who are as new to the recorder as they are themselves. Visuals-wise, this means images of 16-year-old Horsch looking appropriately fresh and wholesome – on a bicycle, perched next to an Amsterdam canal and so on – with booklet-notes outlining her ‘Vivaldi’s Girl’ credentials. Then, the programme itself features all four main solo recorder sizes (sopranino, descant, treble, tenor), opening with the most famous Vivaldi recorder concerto of all, RV443.
Horsch herself is very good, displaying a phenomenal technique right from RV443’s virtuoso opening movement; articulation is never short of immaculate and her control across the dynamic range is equally secure. Another plus is the programme’s variety. Non-concerto highlights include a joyous solo sopranino performance of ‘Spring’ from The Four Seasons (Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s arrangement) and an appropriately dark tenor transcription of the Nisi Dominus aria ‘Cum dederit’.
It does feel, however, as if Horsch is concentrating more on getting things perfect than on making statements. For instance, she eschews the go-wild ornamentation possibilities of RV443’s slow (although not so slow here) Siciliana movement, and in general her readings feel safe rather than adventurous in terms of articulation style and plays with metre; I’d have enjoyed more made of certain cadences, in particular. She also sticks to one recorder per work.
This probably isn’t one for die-hard recorder listeners, but it’s a strong start to a recording career.