This collection pairs several sonatas by Buxtehude (BuxWV 271, 266, 159, 269) with two sonatas from Reinken’s Hortus Musicus collection) by Ensemble La Rêveuse.
Reinken (or Reincken) composed the sonatas for two violins and continuo in 1787. These were new to me, although I had before heard of the collection for its curious name. He’s likely most important to us, today, because of the interest shown by Johann Sebastian Bach in his music, not to mention that of Buxtehude. In fact, both composers were organists (like Bach), and the sonatas by Buxtehude don’t differ terribly in style by the two here by Reinken.
La Rêveuse was a new ensemble to me, and I picked up this recording in a French FNAC store based on the strong releases on the Mirare label Pierre Hantaï.
From the start, sampling the tracks, I liked the fact that the continuo here wasn’t dry, with only one combination. The ensemble mixed things up a bit with organ (in one case playing a double organ work by Buxtehude), harpsichord, plucked strings, and of course, gamba. The two offerings by Reinken were strong. The pieces by Buxtehude were perhaps less generous, compositionally speaking, but the playing throughout the CD was consistent.
The strongest personality comes from the gamba, in the moments where it has solo lines. The instrumentalists are captured clearly enough, with ample reverb left to give us the sense of space. The violins were a tad “thin” in sound for my taste, and the playing altogether felt on the “safe” side. Tempos varied appropriately between slow and fast in with no disappointments. I simply felt the ensemble could have injected more “personality,” especially from the violinists, into the texture.
Otherwise, what remains, is a limited collection of string ensemble music from the likes of two contemporaneous composers who had captured the attention of Bach. Alone, it’s a nice tasting.