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Louis-Gabriel Guillemain - Conversations Galantes

Posted By: zamorna
Louis-Gabriel Guillemain - Conversations Galantes

Louis-Gabriel Guillemain - Conversations Galantes
Quartets for flute, violin, viola da gamba, cello and harpsichord

Classical, Baroque | 1 CD | EAC | FLAC, CUE, LOG (burned CD rip) | front-cover
Recorded: 12/2004, Post Chapel, San Francisco & St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park
Released: 2005 | Label: Magnatune | TT: 63:52 | RS | 346 MB


Ensemble Mirable (Greer Ellison - flute, Elizabeth Blumenstock - violin,
Joanna Blendulf - viola da gamba, William Skeen - cello, JungHae Kim - harpsichord)


"Conversations galantes," might be described as "intimate repartée " amongst worldly sophisticates, as in this ensemble of flute, violin, viol and bass that exchange Guillemain's witty phrases along with sotto-voce comments in the background. They often split into two pairs, or three will respond to one, yet all frequently agree in stating some telling idea. Their topics are sometimes serious, as in the beginning of Sonata III, but soon the pursuit is on and they are apt to break out in elegant and bubbling pirouettes. Impressive virtuosity is needed to maintain this light touch, an ease of performance that in the eighteenth-century was found only in Paris. The elite among Italian, German and English musicians came to compete with the French for the fame and riches French connoisseurs were able to confer.
Louis-Gabriel Guillemain (1705-1770) was one of the foremost French violinists of the eighteenth century. He wrote orchestral music, sonatas for the violin, and chamber music for his own performance and that of other Parisian musicians. He mastered a brilliant Italian technique and fiery style through his studies with Giovanni Battista Somis in Italy and after his return to France became one of the most popular and highest-paid court musicians of Louis XV, playing violin in private concerts before the king and queen and with Madame de Pompadour's court orchestra. Grove's Dictionary of Music praises the six 'quartet' sonatas of opus 12 as some of his most charming music. The quintessentially light and graceful French touch in this music is the result of a tradition of elegant dance music invented for the danceloving Louis XIV, which inspired Molière and Lully's comedie-ballets and the dance-saturated Opéras by Lully that still dominated the stage in mid-eighteenth century Paris.

Oddly enough, music by Georg Phillipp Telemann for a "quatuor" of five instruments, flute, violin, viol and continuo 'cello and harpsichord was the model for several French composers in mid-century France. Telemann's six quartets first heard in 1738 in Paris became enormously popular due to brilliant performances by the flutist Michel Blavet, violinist Jean- Pierre Guignon, violist da gamba Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Forqueray le fils, a cellist named Edouard, and an unknown harpsichordist. Telemann wrote in his autobiography: "The marvelous way in which these quartets were played deserves mention here, if indeed words can convey any impression. Suffice it to say that the Court and the whole city pricked up their ears most remarkably, and these quartets quickly won for me an almost universal respect which was accompanied with exceeding courtesy." [quoted from Petzold's biography of Telemann].

Guillemain's Six sonates en quatuor (1743) were certainly inspired by Telemann's sonatas. He wrote the violin part for himself and it is likely that the great Michel Blavet and Jean-Baptiste-Antoine Forqueray were his companions. Guillemain's writing for violin uses Italianate double stops, florid figuration, tremolo bowings, and brilliant arpeggiations; but true to the French style, a courteous restraint is kept even in music of meditative sadness. The 'singing allegro' first movements and headlong melodic sequences of the brisk final movements all stem from the Italian style that typifies the baroque. Guillemain's skill is evident in blending French dance rhythms with Italian vigor and German counterpoint.

Sonata III, in d minor, dark in its color, sets a serious mood at first. Phrases begin with a rising figure, then descending lines and sighing dissonances follow, and the insistent rhythm gives vigor and determination lightened only a bit by triplet decorations. Each instrument has its turn with the various figures that make up the patterns of the sequence, even the basso continuo participates, a part that usually supports the harmony rather than joins in the conversation. The larghetto that follows is a siciliano, a lyrical plainte in a faintly limping rhythm with instrumental comments murmuring in accord. A third movement, an aria gratioso,is a version of a menuet that contrasts by its setting in D major. The allegro that concludes is a fiery finale for this most serious of the sonatas.

Sonata VI, in C Major, begins with a tutti scale as in a Vivaldi concerto but gives way quickly to solo passages for the conversing instruments. The opening scale returns at moments to mark both the beginnings of major sections as well as their conclusions. Guillemain delights in contrasting solo and paired groups, and there is one remarkable section where the flute and violin begin to twitter away like happy birds with repeated quick trills. The aria gratioso is organized as a rondeau, with a returning theme between contrasting sections, it is another of his graceful menuets filled with delicately ornate phrases. The finale is an allegro totally Italian in its arpeggiations, sequences, and irresistible verve.

Sonata V, in F major, announces itself with a somewhat pompously majestic opening phrase then continues with light-hearted interchanges between conversational groups that alternates pairing violin and viol against flute and bass, then flute and viol against violin and bass. A repeat of the opening phrase seems to say, "the meeting is called to order" after which the conversation continues on unabated. There is little hope that this committee will end the debate with a decision. The aria gratioso continues to contrast groups, flute and viol supported by the bass with violin interjections in double-stops, and other pairings. The triple meter, menuet-like, is evocative of the pastorale, easy going, and reinforced by sustaining pedal notes in the bass. A lilting and gentle andante follows with flute and violin, supported by the viol and bass. The allegro ma non presto finale continues the pastoral quality of the second movement with a bit more energy: Italian sequences and delicate runs dominate.

Sonata II, in b minor, begins with the closest these quartets ever come to the Italian concerto, but the formality of solo and ripieno contrasts with a free interchange between voices that pair off as much as they engage in individual conversation. The aria gratioso is a rondeau, very French, with a recurring refrain that plays with different metrical versions of six. The final allegro sparkles with hints of a jaunty syncopated theme along with inventive and varied textures in each of the four parts.

Paris is sunny in Guillemain's cosmopolitan world, a rich and intricate place, whether serious or joyous but above all intelligent and perceptive. The wonderful spirit that weaves all of these diverse threads together with wit and sensitivity repays our close attention. Vive l'Italie, Viva Francia! (George Houle, conversationsgalantes.com)
Ensemble Mirable's recording, made in two different chapels in the Bay Area, but sounding more or less the same throughout, is rich, dark, and warm. One might want to hear a little more of Kim's harpsichord, although the level observed here is in keeping with what would be audible in a concert appearance. Conversations Galantes is a very pleasing musical experience that bodes well for future endeavors by Ensemble Mirable, which is recording on its own dime and making this disc available at www.magnatune.com. Keep 'em coming! (Uncle Dave Lewis, All Music Guide)

Tracklist:

From Six Sonates En Quatuors, Ou Conversations Galantes et amusantes entre une Flûtte
Traversiere, un Violon, une Basse de Viole et la Basse Continüe. Op. 12
(Paris, 1743)

Sonata III in d minor
01. Allegro/Moderato 3:45
02. Larghetto 3:49
03. Aria/Gratioso 3:11
04. Allegro 4:12

Sonata VI in C Major
05. Allegro/Moderato 5:39
06. Aria/Gratioso, Altro piu Allegro 6:13
07. Allegro 4:41

Sonata V in F Major
08. Allegro/Moderato 4:56
09. Aria /Gratioso 4:34
10. Andante 2:10
11. Allegro/Ma non presto 5:19

Sonata II in b minor
12. Allegro/Moderato 4:31
13. Aria/Gratioso, Altro 6:37
14. Allegro 3:30

Listen to sample tracks: www.conversationsgalantes.com/listen.htm


Instruments:

Transverse Flute: Rod Cameron, 1986, Mendocino, California, ivory after Thomas Cahusac ca.1760
Violin: Desiderio Quercetani, 1995, Parma Italy, after Stradivari
Viola da Gamba: David Rubio 1978, Oxford, England, after Guillaume Barbey ca.1710
Violoncello: Anonymous, Tyrolian ca.1750
Harpsichord: Kevin Fryer, 2003, after Ioannes Ruckers, Colmar


Exact Audio Copy V0.99 prebeta 5 from 4. May 2009

EAC extraction logfile from 30. December 2009, 21:43

Guillemain, Louis-Gabriel / Conversations Galantes - Ensemble Mirable

Used drive : HL-DT-STDVDRAM GSA-T50N Adapter: 0 ID: 1

Read mode : Secure
Utilize accurate stream : Yes
Defeat audio cache : Yes
Make use of C2 pointers : No

Read offset correction : 667
Overread into Lead-In and Lead-Out : No
Fill up missing offset samples with silence : Yes
Delete leading and trailing silent blocks : No
Null samples used in CRC calculations : Yes
Used interface : Native Win32 interface for Win NT & 2000

Used output format : User Defined Encoder
Selected bitrate : 1024 kBit/s
Quality : High
Add ID3 tag : No
Command line compressor : C:\Program Files\Exact Audio Copy\FLAC\FLAC.EXE
Additional command line options : -6 -V -T "ARTIST=%a" -T "TITLE=%t" -T "ALBUM=%g" -T "DATE=%y" -T "TRACKNUMBER=%n" -T

"GENRE=%m" -T "COMMENT=%e" %s -o %d


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Range status and errors

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Filename C:\Guillemain - Conversations Galantes.wav

Peak level 95.8 %
Range quality 100.0 %
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Copy OK

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