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Fanfare Magazine: 39:2 (11-12/2015) 
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Reviewer: Barry Brenesal

“In search of Marais’s lost repertoire for oboe” is the subtitle of Palameta’s liner notes. Marais, however, didn’t write anything specifically featuring the oboe, and what this amounts to in the end is an oboist’s understandable desire to claim some of the period’s finest viol da gamba works for his instrument. Palameta is in luck, as it happens. While much of the composer’s chamber music is very clearly intended for the viol, not just technically but by dint of idiomatic phrasing, he wrote at least some movements that wouldn’t sound out of place when transposed, arranged, and gathered together into modern suites.

This treatment is at its most successful in the faster dance movements—among them the gigues, courantes, and minuets—where the soloist’s agility and sensible ornamentation come to the fore. Less effective are some of the slower to moderate tempo movements, such as the Sarabande à L’Espagnol, II. 101, in which Marais took excellent advantage of the viol’s ability to bow the line for expressive color. The oboe doesn’t have this, not to the same extent, and the result is more generic sounding in Palameta’s arrangement.

The performances are generally fine, though there are some pieces (the Gigue to the C-Major Suite, for example) where an occasional lengthy phrase is shortened due to breath support. Palameta also engages occasionally in what I assume is the oboist’s equivalent of a shake. It’s most noticeable at the opening of the Prelude to his G-Major Suite, starting with a very slow flutter-tongue that accelerates as it proceeds. The resulting “wa-wa” effect distracts from the music, rather than contributing anything to it.

The sound is excellent, and the accompaniment first-rate, even if the timings are on the short side. I can’t say I find the results consistently successful, in the way that arrangements of recorder works by Hotteterre le Romain, Boismortier, or de Mondonville are, but presumably oboists will differ.


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