Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre: chamber music from the Brossard collection
Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre (1665–1729) is often introduced as a ‘woman composer’, but as the music here shows, she transcends any category. Her work displays drama, intensity, and great artistic subtlety. No wonder that Évrard Titon du Tillet in his Parnasse français (1732) gave her a place on Mount Parnassus alongside Lully, Marais, Louis and François Couperin. A child prodigy, as a teenager she enjoyed a place as a harpsichordist in the court of Louis XIV. Later she composed works for public performance, including ballet, opera, and cantatas, as well as more private chamber music.
The Bach Players present all the music by Jacquet de la Guerre that was copied by her contemporary, the composer and theorist Sébastien de Brossard (1655–1730): four trio sonatas and two sonatas for violin and continuo. This is a first recording for these pieces as a set. Also here are four of the ‘unmeasured preludes’ for harpsichord that she published in her Pièces de clavecin (1687): apparently improvised and compelling works.
Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre: (1665–1729)
Prelude in G minor
Trio Sonata [I] in G minor
Prelude in A minor
Violin Sonata [Ia] in A minor
Trio sonata [IV] in C minor
Tocade in F major
Trio Sonata [II] in B flat major
Prelude in D minor
Violin Sonata [IIa] in A minor
Trio sonata [III] in D major
Nicolette Moonen violin
Oliver Webber violin
Reiko Ichise viola da gamba
Silas Wollston harpsichord
Recording & production
Recording producer: Moritz Bergfeld
Recording engineer: Aaron Holloway-Nahum
Recorded at St Michael’s Church, Highgate, London, 18 to 20 July 2017
In the digipack is a 28-page booklet with notes on the music by Graham Sadler, in English and German; also with photographs of the musicians in recording.
There is a wonderful unity of purpose among the four players which extends to Silas Wollston’s sensitive playing on the harpsichord of quasi-improvisatory preludes and a tocade, leading directly into four of the sonatas. This is highly accomplished music, played with love and great attention to detail on this recording. Do listen to it.
Noel O’Regan, Early Music Review, 7 December 2018
The Bach Players are persuasive advocates for the trio sonatas, shaping each work’s independent contrasting sections stylishly into a convincing and coherent whole and occasionally adding extravagant embellishment, especially towards the C minor Sonata’s end.
They are aptly lyrical in the Aria sections incorporated in all but the B flat major Sonata and they admirably convey the spirit of the French courante in the Allegros of both the D major and B flat major works. Gambist Reiko Ichise’s mellifluous playing also comes to the fore in some pleasing extended solos.
Lead violinist Nicolette Moonen offers thoughtfully prepared, lyrical and intuitively musical performances of the two ‘solo’ sonatas in A minor, tastefully supported by Ichise and harpsichordist Silas Wollston. The latter’s intelligent and assured realisations of a Tocade and three unmeasured preludes from the composer’s Pièces de clavecin punctuate the programme. The closely miked recording is sensitively balanced, its church acoustic adding plenty of bloom.
Robin Stowell, The Strad, April 2019
These performances would be hard to surpass. They are technically impressive, but (more importantly) the sonatas are played with imagination and panache, excellently phrased and articulated, and with a good sense of rhythm and dynamic differentation. This is rhetorical playing in the best sense of the word.
Johan van Veen, MusicWeb International