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Ron Salemi
Fanfare, January 2009

The six works recorded here were published as Dornel’s op. 1, entitled Livre de symphonies contenant six suittes en trio pour les flutes, violins, hautbois, & c. avec Sonate en Quatuor. Each starts with either a prelude or a two-movement overture followed by four, five, or six dance movements. Dornel’s relative obscurity compared with his more-recorded late Baroque contemporaries apparently has nothing to do with his ability as a composer. The music here is inventive and enjoyable. However, I did find it better to listen to these works in a couple of sessions rather than straight through.

Part of the reason for this “ear fatigue” can, I think, be attributed to the interpretation. Musica Barocca’s playing is not at fault; the performances are excellent. But I question the decision to entrust the two solo lines to voice flute, a type of alto recorder. Although the score mentions flutes, violins, or oboes, there is, of course, no reason why interpreters cannot choose other solo instruments. But I found the voice flute to be a bit overwhelming after listening to a couple of these works, and would have welcomed some variety. Also, judging from scores I downloaded from the Internet, it appears that some of these works had to be transposed to be played by the voice flutes; the insert notes make no mention of this fact.

The recording does not include the Sonate en quatuor that was published as part of op. 1; there was not enough room on the disc for it. However, the Sonate can be found on a disc entitled “The Sultan and the Phoenix” on Signum, which includes works by seven other French Baroque composers. This is the first complete recording of the six suittes en trio; I find only one of the suites available elsewhere on a Glossa recording. The music is worth getting to know, and the recording will provide enjoyment. But there is room for another recording using different solo instruments and with all works recorded in their original keys.

Johan van Veen
MusicWeb International, September 2008

The suites regularly move away from the traditional pattern of allemande-courante-sarabande-gigue - as so often is the case in French suites of the late baroque. Three of the suites open with a (slow) prélude, the other three with an overture in two sections (slow - fast). The courante is completely absent, instead we find movements like menuet, fantaisie, rondeau or ritournelle. A collection like this can't do without a chaconne (three) or a passacaille (one). And very few composers failed to write a 'plainte', as we find here in the Suite No. 5.

Although Dornel isn't one of the best-known composers of the French baroque...this recording of the six suites from opus 1 is very welcome. 

As far as the interpretation is concerned I am a little in two minds. On the one hand: the playing is very good and I really enjoyed the performances. The slow movements are played with great sensitivity, the fast movements with verve...This opus 1 is recorded here for the first time and the overall quality of the playing of the ensemble is admirable.

Giv Cornfield
The New Recordings, Cliffs Classics, August 2008

The blurb on the back of this new CD begins: Little is known about (this) French composer...But of course. Who has ever heard of him? Important musical figures of the time were surrounded by eager satellites whose product is often curious to the eye and titillating to the ear. The question is whether such music can stand on its own feet or is a mere reflection of the real article.  So goes it with Dornel: the suites, composed of dance movements, follow convention, are charming in their own little way, and leave no lasting melodic imprint, as does the music of contemporaries like Couperin or Rameau, for example. The musicians play in style and give it their best shot. This is one for collectors of musical esoterica.

James Manheim, August 2008

The recording…is too live…an enjoyable set of pieces for a big Baroque shelf.

David Denton
David's Review Corner, July 2008

That he was born in France in 1680, was one of the major organists in Paris at the beginning of the 18th century, and quite an industrious composer, is about all that we know of Louis-Antoine Dornel. Little of his music has survived, though contemporary reports would have him composing much for the church, but only four cantatas and organ music in manuscript form are still extant. In 1709 he published the Livre de Simphonies Contenant six suittes et trio, music that in reality was a series of movements in the form of dances for flute duo and accompaniment. Certainly, they make welcome listening, the fast movements - particularly the Gigues - having a melodic invention that at times is quite catchy. They are performed by a multi-national group, Musica Barocca, the two baroque flutes played with considerable agility by Lisete da Silva and Maria Martinez, that pithy and hollow sound low in the instruments’ range well captured by the recording team. Keeping the music nicely moving along is the harpsichord of Juan Estevez. Nicholas Stringfellow in the background offers a dexterous viola da gamba, and Mauricio Buraglia adds some nice colours on the theorbo.

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