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Fanfare Magazine: 38:1 (09-10/2014) 
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Reviewer: Raymond Tuttle

This is one of those lovely discs that comes along every so often, in which music from the 16th and 17th centuries is performed in a manner suggesting the folk tradition as much as the classical. The content also suggests folk music, because one focus of this CD is variations on popular melodies of the era. La Folia, probably the most famous of these melodies, is performed in a version by an unknown composer that has been taken from John Playford’s collection The Division Violin. (“Division,” in the 1680s, referred to the art of variation.) The melody that gives this CD its title comes from a 16th-century madrigal by Pierre Sandrin. Here, Little and Bergeron play three different works based on that melody: a Duo by François de Layolle, a recercada by Diego Ortiz, and a version by Vincenzo Bonizzi. The variations represented on this CD often take the form of diminutions. “Diminution” refers to the practice of taking the long notes of a melody and dividing them into a series of short notes. These embellishments sometimes obscure the original melody entirely, but if they are sensitively constructed, as they are here, the result has a beauty and eloquence of its own.

Little and Bergeron play together on most of the 17 tracks. On occasion, Little exchanges her treble viol for a bass viol, and the different timbre adds welcome variety to the program. No matter what instrument she is playing, however, Little is always expressive, and always musical in her phrasing. In John Banister’s Another Ground, Bergeron is given a solo opportunity, and he makes the most of it: One immediately recognizes that his playing is just as sensitive and gorgeous as Little’s. This is one of the CD’s highlights. The aforementioned folk tradition really comes into the foreground in Roger de Coverly (another work by an anonymous composer, taken from The Division Violin), which would not sound out of place being played from the bow of a ship sailing down the St. Lawrence River far upstream from Montréal—that is, assuming one of the sailors owned a viola da gamba! I was not surprised to read that Little has performed with La Nef, a Canadian ensemble whose approach to early music has nothing of the museum about it, and everything of the fresh open air.

The combination of viola da gamba and lute is entrancing, and Little and Bergeron are in perfect accord throughout this beguiling program. Perfect for late night listening, perhaps by the light of a candle, Doulce Mémoire leaves sweet memories behind indeed.

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