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GRAMOPHONE (07/2016)
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Reviewer: Julie Anne Sadie


A pardessus recital is a rarity, indeed! Fine treble viol plays are reasonably thick on the ground these days but are heard mainly in 17th-century consort music and earlier ensemble music.


Pardessus players belong to a subset of viol players who specialise in 18th-century French chamber music, both pièces and sonatas composed specifically for the pardessus in les goutsréunïs style and violin sonatas of the day. The original devotees of the six- and later five-string pardessus were most often aristocratic. Mélisande Corriveau belongs to a new generation of players bringing formidable performing skills and knowledge of period practices. A recorder player and Baroque cellist as well, Corriveau wrote her doctoral thesis on the pardessus and on this CD eloquently plays an instrument by Nicolas Bertrand (1710). Listeners will marvel at its silvery tone, thinner than that of a violin but still sparkling and warm.


The composers represented here were all either viol players, Hervelois in particular, or knowledgeable about the specific idiomatic qualities of the instrument. Barrière, the violist who travelled to Italy and returned a cellist, contributes perhaps the most blended and beautiful pardessus sonata (1739), though Boismortier’s (1736) runs a close second. The music – a varied mixture of Italian sonata movements, French dances and character pieces – is engaging and divinely interpreted by Corriveau and sympathetically accompanied by Eric Milnes. Dollé’s La précieuse is a vivid portrait, infused with discourse, wit and fine detail, and Les regrets is virtually a private conversation. This CD remarkably evokes a hitherto neglected musical milieu that will, one hopes, win many new followers.

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