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GRAMOPHONE (06/2014)
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Reviewer: David Vickers

Martin Berteau (1708-71) gave up the great French tradition of bass viol-playing in favour of the cello after hearing the Italian cellist Francischello, and thereafter founded a French tradition of cello-playing; he supposedly pioneered extended techniques and reputedly even taught the Dauphin. There are amusing anecdotes about his fondness for wine and attitude to money but precious little music has survived. Christophe Coin plays a variety of sonatas and airs; six sonatas are taken from Berteau’s Sonate de camera, Op 1 (Paris, 1748), and five brief airs are taken from Recueil d’airs choisis des meilleurs auteurs ajustés pour le violoncelle, an anthology published by Berteau’s pupil François Cupis.


Coin’s intimately conversational playing seems to convey perceptive subtleties effortlessly (eg the tender Amoroso of Sonata No 5 in E flat), and the delicate use of harmonics and double-stopping in the rondo finale of Sonata No 3 in G is extraordinary. Coin also plays with a staggering range and dexterity of bowing in the Vivace of Sonata No 1 in D, and plays the seemingly didactic Exercice (étude) in G published by Berteau’s pupil Jean-Louis Duport with consummate artistry. He continues the modern-day pedagogical tradition by having two of his former pupils at the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis share duties on the basso continuo cello part. Harpsichordist Markus Hünninger provides refined support but leaves the spotlight to all three cellists for the beguiling three-part texture in the Sonata No 6 in E minor. This is a veritable masterclass.

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