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Fanfare Magazine: 15:3 (01-02/1992)
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Harmonia Mundi

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Reviewer: Tom Moore


Michel-Richard de Lalande (1657-1726) held various royal appointments under the Sun-King, beginning with sous-maître at the royal chapel, later maître de musique de la chambre, and finally surintendant de la musique du Roy. Presently he's represented in the discographies by his grand motets, but as Reyne points out excerpts from these symphonies have been continuously popular (well, at least in France). It's instructive to travel back in time and hear what was perpetrated in the name of Lalande in the recording studios of Paris, circa 1960—these are the enormities that got us started on historically informed performance. What actually survives in the library in Paris is several anthologies consisting of a single treble line with continuo, made up of pieces selected from various of the composer's balletic works. The earliest collection, from 1703, includes the concert de trompettes and ten suites, with another two added in 1713. The latest, from 1745, includes twenty symphonies de Noël and twenty-six suites. Reyne chooses to follow the earliest sources, which still yield a good five hours of dinner music (fanatics will be interested to know that there is a similar anthology of music pour le coucher du Roi).

Reyne has done an admirable job in fleshing out the music from the skeletal sources (never yet published), composing counterpoints and choosing instrumentations. The music itself is characterful but not too demanding, just the thing to serve admirably as a foundation for the dance (one supposes each dinner tune recalled to the king's ear the original choreography).

The playing of the Simphonie du Marais (strings plus recorders, flutes, oboe, the occasional chalumeau, continuo instruments) is first-rate. Quibblers (among them I count myself) may be jarred by the occasional percussion—castanets et al.—but not so as to detract from a worthy enterprise.

Will you want the whole set or the selections? It depends on the length of your repast and the depth of your pocket.

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