The Sun King's Paradise - Palladian Ensemble - Daily Telegraph

French Baroque music from the time of Louis XIV - the "Sun King" - is one of those less well-known corners of the repertory which has benefited enormously from the current proliferation of specialist ensembles. The first-class performances they can give are dispensable, if unfamiliar music, however good, is to win itself an enthusiastic new audience. The Palladian Ensemble's crisp, stylish and technically impeccable playing of an attractive selection of pieces makes this disc particulaly appealing.

The dominant figure is Marin Marais, represented by two of the brass viol solos for which he is probably best known, and by a lively and characterful suite for recorder, violin and continuo. The same forces are used for Jean-Fery Rebel's delighful Les Caracteres de la Danse, a sort of "Young Person's Guide to the Baroque Dance" in which snatches of a dozen or so different types are ingeniously strung together into a single movement.

The only disappointment is with the supplied booklet: historical background, however fascinating, is no substitute for the musical information most listeners will want.

Daily Telegraph
01 March 1999