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on July 9, 2013
These 5 suites published by Jean-Baptiste Forqueray are exceedingly difficult to perform, and few artists have attempted a complete recording of them on the viol. Paolo Pandolfo is certainly up to the challenge; in fact, he makes them sound beautiful, resonant, and full of character. He uses several different combinations of continuo instruments--Baroque guitar, viola da gamba, and/or harpsichord--and chooses the accompaniment to enhance the character of individual pieces. The titles were added by Jean-Baptiste, but according to his own statement, all but three of the pieces originated with his father, Antoine, who was (like Jean-Baptiste) a legendary master of the viol. Scholars still argue about who really composed them, but meanwhile, Pandolfo gives us renditions that are superb, and they show an unprecedented range of emotions and expression on the viol. For admirers of the French Baroque and the viol, this is a must-have two-CD set.

There are also several recordings of these same pieces in Jean-Baptiste's own transcriptions for the harpsichord. They make an interesting comparison with the viol pieces, and both are well worth owning.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 27, 2014
This excellent set has now been reissued by Glossa Antoine Forqueray, J-B Forqueray - Pièces de viole avec la basse continuë Paris 1747. My review of the reissued set is below.

This is a very welcome reissue of a superb 2-CD set by Paolo Pandolfo and a fine group of musicans, originally released in 1999. It is one of the recordings which helped to cement Pandolfo's position as one of the finest gamba players of modern times, and it is easy to see why.

The music, credited to both Forquerays (father and son), was published in Paris in 1747 and is very distinctively French. This is the only complete recording of the collection which is regarded as probably the mist virtuosic of all gamba music, and it is a treat to have it available in this form, especially when so well played. Pandolfo especially makes the whole thing sound natural and unforced and the brilliance of his technique allows him the freedom to put his own rhythmic and emotional stamp on the music. He brings out the grace and charm while preserving (and often emphasising) the dance rhythms, and the continuo ensemble respond beautifully and in kind. I find the whole thing a monumental treat.

If you have any interest whatever in music of this period, don't hesitate. The recorded sound is excellent (as always from Glossa) and the repackaging is attractive. This is a fine set all round and very warmly recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 27, 2014
This excellent set has now been reissued by Glossa Antoine Forqueray, J-B Forqueray - Pièces de viole avec la basse continuë Paris 1747. My review of the reissued set is below.

This is a very welcome reissue of a superb 2-CD set by Paolo Pandolfo and a fine group of musicans, originally released in 1999. It is one of the recordings which helped to cement Pandolfo's position as one of the finest gamba players of modern times, and it is easy to see why.

The music, credited to both Forquerays (father and son), was published in Paris in 1747 and is very distinctively French. This is the only complete recording of the collection which is regarded as probably the mist virtuosic of all gamba music, and it is a treat to have it available in this form, especially when so well played. Pandolfo especially makes the whole thing sound natural and unforced and the brilliance of his technique allows him the freedom to put his own rhythmic and emotional stamp on the music. He brings out the grace and charm while preserving (and often emphasising) the dance rhythms, and the continuo ensemble respond beautifully and in kind. I find the whole thing a monumental treat.

If you have any interest whatever in music of this period, don't hesitate. The recorded sound is excellent (as always from Glossa) and the repackaging is attractive. This is a fine set all round and very warmly recommended.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you? Report abuse
TOP 500 REVIEWERon July 27, 2014
This excellent set has now been reissued by Glossa Antoine Forqueray, J-B Forqueray - Pièces de viole avec la basse continuë Paris 1747. My review of the reissued set is below.

This is a very welcome reissue of a superb 2-CD set by Paolo Pandolfo and a fine group of musicans, originally released in 1999. It is one of the recordings which helped to cement Pandolfo's position as one of the finest gamba players of modern times, and it is easy to see why.

The music, credited to both Forquerays (father and son), was published in Paris in 1747 and is very distinctively French. This is the only complete recording of the collection which is regarded as probably the mist virtuosic of all gamba music, and it is a treat to have it available in this form, especially when so well played. Pandolfo especially makes the whole thing sound natural and unforced and the brilliance of his technique allows him the freedom to put his own rhythmic and emotional stamp on the music. He brings out the grace and charm while preserving (and often emphasising) the dance rhythms, and the continuo ensemble respond beautifully and in kind. I find the whole thing a monumental treat.

If you have any interest whatever in music of this period, don't hesitate. The recorded sound is excellent (as always from Glossa) and the repackaging is attractive. This is a fine set all round and very warmly recommended.
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on December 4, 2003
For the price and the two CDs, this set is a pretty good deal. It includes most of Forqueray's extant works for the viol - his five suites of the Pieces de Viol.
Admittedly this is the only copy of Forqueray's viol pieces that I own, but it is well performed and of good quality. My only reservation is that the recordings are a little too echoey (though it might just be my computer speakers). I highly recommend Forqueray's viol pieces as the epitomic example of French viol mastery. My favorite is the self titled La Forqueray, which perhaps illustrates the kind of fiery playing and amazing intensity exhibited by the elder Forqueray that made him so famous in his day. The piece is littered with low A string octaves and abound with chord after chord at a very fast pace. It is easy to see just how difficult such a piece would be to execute and one can just imagine the Antoine Forqueray having impressed kings with his remarkable playing.
If you happen to be bound by the illusion that Baroque music is boring and monotonous this CD will bring you to focus. Forqueray's works are dynamic, extremely emotional, and even progressive for his day.
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on April 11, 2012
I think to truly appreciate what sublime little grotesqueries these pieces are, you have to also have a sense of their opposite: the triumphant Mass and Te Deum settings of the Gallican church. The Te Deums of Charpentier and De Lalande and Lully seemed to have never died, at least stylistically, and well into a purely anachronistic phase someone like Giroust was still doggedly using the same gorgeously pompous style. The flip side of al this is Marais and Forqueray and their intimate viol music. I have found this sort of music very hard to enjoy, mostly because Viol players seem devoted to not playing on pitch for very long ever. Thank God this set is a big exception! But in general most recordings remind me of the concert I reviewed (or just attended, can't remember now) at the Smithsonian Museum where they keep their instrument collection. After two hours of viol playing I turned to my companion and said with a sigh: " Two hours and barely one note played on pitch." And that was about five viols playing at once. So you can imagine why I did not become a big viol fan after that.

But Pandolfo here plays blessedly on pitch. As well as with a lot of rhythmic precision, and great inspiration in spots. (I only wish the notes on the original 1997 set I have did NOT include a picture of him recording the works in his sneakers, which kind of blew the Versaiilles day- dream for me) . Listen to the first piece A la Borde in Savall's performance and you will hear an apples and oranges difference. it scarcely sounds like the same piece and the theme is lost in a diffuse bland growl of his viol. So with the pitch secure in these Pandolfo recordings , finally these pieces have the chance to delight you for what they are. Well, Pandolfo himself wrote the notes, and almost the first words of the commentary emphasize the bizarre, decadent nature of the French court. Well, you can really hear it in the strangely charming pieces. Each work is a sort of instrumental picture of sketch, of charmingly off-putting nature. The musical sense given is the opposite from the triumphant Church music, and that is why you need it for perspective. These are exquisitely nervous and obsessive little pieces of note entirely pleasant intimacy, and the virtuosity is put creating a sublime raw energy. They are entrancing and even profound in spots, and conjure a court -world made up of of decidedly not snaguine sorts. Rather, each piece is like a portrait of the sitter's neurosis. I don't know any music in the whole canon that reminds me of these works in this specific sense, except maybe Schoenberg's sublime Trio written on the occasion of unpleasant medical treatment. Yet like that work, these are radiant in their own dusky saturnine way. But historically they also show the emotional underbelly of the quite brutal elegance of that unstable regal past. What a piece of work is man, indeed, that great music can be made even out of those unpleasant realities of the past!
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