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Antoine Forqueray (1672-1745) was not only one of France's great baroque composers but also the foremost performer of the viol. Indeed, on this disc, Lucile Boulanger and her colleagues focus on the composer's latter gifts, thus showing the extent to which his skill and familiarity with other genres permeated his activity both as a composer and as a performer. In Forqueray's day, Italian music exerted a great fascination and influence on French music, so it is no surprise that his compositions display a certain affinity with this Italianate sound world. Listening carefully to this very fragile music one observes a type of virtuosity which is more exuberant and extrovert than in other French viol masters, and Forqueray's harmonic surprises do indeed have an Italian garb.
Listen — Antoine Forqueray: La Marella (Quatrième Suite in G minor)
(track 17, 0:01-0:47) © 2018 harmonia mundi musique sas :
For all his gallic genius, the composer strived unstintingly to unite the tastes so dear to that other French giant of the period, François Couperin, those of the French and Italian styles. I must take off my hat to the way the programme was planned, as apart from including such other French masters as Jean-Marie Leclair, Robert de Visee and Forqueray's son Jean-Baptiste, this issue also incorporates works by eminent Italian composers Michele Mascitti and Arcangelo Corelli.
Listen — Arcangelo Corelli: Allegro (Sonata III in C)
(track 13, 0:01-0:31) © 2018 harmonia mundi musique sas :
This is no easy music to perform as Forqueray was striving continually to extend the technique of viol playing beyond the norm, and he often baffled the performer with fiendishly difficult challenges.
Listen — Antoine Forqueray: La Leclair
(track 6, 1:30-2:07) © 2018 harmonia mundi musique sas :
The talented foursome heard here rise brilliantly to the hurdles presented and performances are consistently full of charm and warmth, wrapped up in an aura of unmitigated sensitivity. Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but certainly a musical potion to calm the nerves after a trying day's work. Sound and presentation are first-rate.