Back in January, 05, I reviewed a concert here in Richmond of the Hantaï brothers.
On Tuesday evening, at 7:30 PM, I attended a recital by the three Hantaï brothers with violinist Ryo Terakado at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Richmond. Their concert consisted of the Pièces de clavecin en concerts by Jean-Phillipe Rameau. The trio consists of three brothers (Marc, flute; Pierre, harpsichord, and Jerome, viol da gamba)... the most famous, most likely, is the keyboard virtuoso whose recordings I have reviewed more than once here on biberfan.org. He was certainly the most charismatic of the performers; the verve of a conductor was within him; with moments with hands off keyboard, he'd gesticulate in the manner of a conductor and seemed to be feeling the music throughout his whole body. Another strong player was the Japanese baroque violinist. I own his own recording of these works (with Christophe Rousset). There were a short number of moments where intonation was suspect, however I am sure no one noticed. When playing together with the flute, their intonation together was quite remarkable... since Rameau only wrote three lines (violin, harpsichord, and viol), the flute part was a bit of a improvisation... in some instances, Marc Hantaï played the violin line; other times, he'd turn it over to Mr. Terakado. And in other instances, they'd play in unison... Terakado played in a true baroque style (as did Pierre on harpsichord), with a dizzying array of ornaments that really help define the word baroque for us. Terakado whipped them off with hardly a wink... Hantaï's flute playing, while not a major portion of the ensemble's program, was very noteworthy... his tone was remarkably even throughout the registers... I often recall baroque transverse flutes being extremely weak in the low register, and thinner and even out of tune in the higher registers; he seemingly effortlessly command the gamut of his instrument with excellent intonation, dexterity, and an evenness in tone and volume. Sitting back during the first half, the gamba was my least favorite of the instruments being played. It simply got lost in the texture, and I became suspicious at certain points with regard to intonation. It wasn't until the second half of the program, when we moved to the front row at request of the performers, did the gamba take on a more assured role, with good intonation and better voice through the trio texture. The performance of Rameau's works got tiresome at some points... his use of repeats was a bit much... Jerome Hantaï did the most to bring our attention to changes in dynamics; at some points he'd blast forth enough to drown-out his fellow musicians--this didn't bother me, he spoke musically with more energy than required, but the gestures were nice breaks from Rameau's simple, but evident counterpoint. Terakado's instrument vanished from perception a few times; the upper register of his instrument sounded veiled compared to the bass; it was in instances such as the fourth concert's La Rameau where he really shined with a break-neck speed and clarity. At one point during La Forqueray things almost lost cohesion with the ensemble; nevertheless, the one constant among the players was Pierre on harpsichord (on loan from Williamsburg), who seemed at complete ease with the difficult music. We could see his hands bouncing about with some cross-handed playing, and those omnipresent ornaments. During the recital I felt a few times that "these guys don't like to slow down; they keep a pretty even tempo throughout..." When listening to the Rousset recording, they do much the same; in comparison, I preferred the Hantaï/Terakado tempos over those by Rousset. In the end, it was ultimately refreshing to hear these familiar works performed live, and with the additional color of flute. It was most definitely a celebration of Rameau; I would have perferred, perhaps, a mixed program. I caught Mr. Terakado performing a Bach solo work during the ensemble's warmup before concert time. My only wish is that more Richmonder's could have taken advantage of this intimate gathering of excellent music making. We very seldom get performers of this quality in town; I couldn't help but notice the ensemble looked surprised when they came into the sanctuary at how few people were in attendance.