On the Alpha label, ensemble Nevermind has released a recording of works by Jean-Baptiste Quentin and Louis-Gabriel Guillemain entitled Conversations, featuring Anna Besson on flute, Louis Creac’h on violin, Robin Pharo on gamba, and Jean Rondeau on harpsichord.
These chamber pieces are likely obscure to modern listeners, but were not chosen for their obscurity; the pieces themselves deserve to be heard.
The group is finely balanced, each contributing clearly to the balance of the ensemble (as much compliment to the performers as to the recording engineers).
I love track #9, an Allegro by Guillemain, composed with a great theme that comes together with great imitative dialog between the upper voices, but really lets each instrument have an independent voice.
Often times the music represented on this disc, both trio- and quartet-sonatas, reminded me of Telemann’s Paris Quartets. The composers here, while French, steal elements from the Italians too.
As a survey, I’ve ultimately found Guillemain to be the more gifted composer, able to write with more complexity, it seems. Quentin, comparably, is no compositional slouch. His tracks which book-end the recording (from his op. 12 concerto in A), transport us to another world, once reminding me of a time that enjoyed a different aesthetic taste. The baroque flute, in particular, shines, with a beautiful tone.
While Rondeau has already recorded more familiar pieces on Imagine and Vertigo for his instrument, I applaud the ensemble for bringing to light pieces new to me. I’ve enjoyed this release immensely on repeat for the past two weeks.