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Ardella Crawford
American Record Guide, October 2000

"There are getting to be a number of Boismortier recordings in the catalog, thanks in part to the efforts of groups like Le Concert Spirituel.

"After a hiatus of nearly 200 years, Le Concert Spirituel was revived in 1988 under the direction of Herve Niquet, with the same purpose as its predecessor and also to promote the music of lesser known composers.

"These ballets are delightfully un-serious stuff. In Boismortier's time, human nature was apparently the same as it is now: people wanted to hear simple, familiar music.

"This program gives us an excellent sampling of what people gave him money for: joyous, uncomplicated music for performance on rustic instruments such as the musette and the hurdy-gurdy. The four Ballets de Village contain a good share of the major pieces ever composed for musette and vielle, and Boismortier makes expert use of them indeed. Included here also is lengthy Serenade, with many small movements such as airs, gavottes, gigues, and minuets. Most of Boismortier's recorded music consists of sonatas, suites, and music for harpsichord, with a few vocal pieces thrown in; it is good to have recordings of these four short ballets and the Serenade. This is very enjoyable music and well worth hearing.

"I suggest this lively program if you have trouble waking up in the morning. Or it would be the perfect accompaniment to a light repast of Sauternes and Brie, with crackers and fruit and conversation with friends. All is expertly performed by this excellent ensemble; the sound is great, and notes are good."

Rad Bennett, August 2000


"Joseph Boismortier was a French Baroque composer who had to live by his wits, having no patrons or prestigious positions. The notes for this CD quote Jean-Benjamin's assessment in 1780: 'Happy is he, Boismortier, whose fertile quill each month, without pain, conceives new airs at will.' Boismortier, for lack of a better answer to his critics, would always answer: 'I am earning money.' His four Ballets de Village are rustic suites that make extensive use of the musette and hurdy-gurdy, instruments considered country cousins, not to be used in 'serious' music. Boismortier writes for them with great skill; the droning din they set up is most appealing. This is joyous music, which at times, especially at the beginning to Cinquième gentillesse, is reminiscent of Handel's Water Music. The Serenade is a more 'serious' composition. Though it uses folk dances and dance rhythms it omits the rustic instruments, retaining pairs of flutes and oboes as the wind compliment.

"All of this delightful music is performed with verve and finesse by the musicians of Le Concert Spirituel, and it's recorded in spacious sound that imparts a feeling of the great outdoors or a meeting hall without muddying any of the exquisite instrumental textures. This is the second CD of Boismortier's music that this ensemble has recorded for Naxos. Let's hope that soon these superb musicians will address the composer's masterpiece: Daphnis et Chloè."

Nick Morgan
International Record Review, August 2000

"In the company of Herve Niquet and Le Concert Spirituel, I feel I've suddenly driven over a mountain pass and am looking down on a deliciously fertile plain, dotted with inviting villages, churches, woods and vineyards. ... all of this latest disc is my favourite. ...[it] is simply a life-enhancing (and cheap) musical holiday for the armchair eco-tourist, a well-planned itinerary of beautiful dances and character pieces. Niquet has tastefully followed the French manner of beefing up the scoring, left deliberately vague and elastic by Boismortier, and by many composers of the period, so that what looks on the page like a thin, three-part texture is actually a rich symphony of flutes, oboes, bassoon, strings and continuo, weirdly modulated as if in an electronic studio c1965 by squealing bagpipe and rasping hurdy-gurdy. The performances are the ticket, festive and fizzing but also elegant.

Jeremy Nicholas
International Record Review, June 2000

"Besides Boismortier's four Ballets de Village, this bargain disc includes the 17 dance movements of the Premiere serenade, Op 39, and the Cinquieme gentillesse, Op 45. For those who do not know the name, Joseph Bodin de Boismortier worked in the first half of the 18th-century in Perpignan, Sceaux and Paris. He compiled a dictionary of harmony and wrote teaching manuals for flute and viol. After his death, he was criticised for taking advantage of the fact that a simple style was in vogue. But good for him,'s beautifully written and orchestrated, and combines a simple rusticity with a certain earthy elegance uncompromised by the near omnipresence of the drones and sinewy melodies of a pair of hurdy-gurdies. Herve Niquet's ensemble Le Concert Spirituel plays with a light tread and the recording is excellent."

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