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  41:1 (09-10 /2017)
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Reviewer: Barry Brenesal

Although a newcomer to Fanfare’s pages, La Rêveuse has issued nine albums to date. It’s a six-person French ensemble specializing in the Baroque, co-directed by gambist Florence Bolton and guitarist-lutenist Benjamin Perrot. While four of Buxtehude’s better-known trio sonatas are featured on this release, the ensemble also turns its attention to a work by the composer’s contemporary Dietrich Becker (1623–1679), and an anonymous viol sonata whose manuscript resides in Bodleian Library, Oxford. All six works emphasize the stylus phantasticus, a North German development of the older, more fluid Italian sonata which first saw light of day in the early part of the 17th century.

There is some rearrangement in these works to give everybody some solo space, including the continuo—such as the first statement of the passacaglia theme in the Sonata in A Minor’s adagio by the theorbo, and the opening of the Sonata and Suite in B♭ Major by the harpsichord (with discreet reinforcement from the theorbo). Whether this extra color in these works offends or pleases is a matter of personal opinion, though it has to be said that orchestral substitution was much more common in the 17th century than in subsequent ones. Regardless, La Rêveuse manages matters tastefully. I’m especially pleased with their choice of tempos. They marry a steady but supple pulse with room for tonal variation and dynamics, in music that is all too often rushed, which results in square phrasing and loss of detail (the Purcell Quartet; Chandos 766) or relaxed to the point of sedation (Holloway, Weiss, Mortensen; Naxos 8.557250).

In attractive, eminently tuneful music, with excellent sound and distinguished performances that display just the right dose of theatrical flair, this album is an easy recommendation.

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