Music of the French Baroque

Nicolas Bernier, Francois Couperin, Jacques Duphly, Marin Marais, Michel Pignolet De Monteclair

Jennifer Paulino, Soprano
Annette Bauer, Recorder
   [adrian Brown, Amsterdam, 2004; After J.c. Denner]
Rebekah Ahrendt, Viola Da Gamba
   [marcelo Ardizzone, Paris, 2000; After Guillaume Barbey]
Jonathan Rhodes Lee, Harpsichord
   [john Philips, Berkeley, 1995; After Andreas Ruckers, 1646, Enlarged by P. Taskin, Paris, 1780]



“…the recital nicely reveals the robust variety of the French Baroque style… The harpsichordist, Jonathan Rhodes Lee, is very satisfying in the Duphly, especially his sympathetic and hearfelt account of the subtle, densely ornamented ‘Les graces’… the recorder player, Annette Bauer, is excellent… Lee and Ahrendt provide unfailingly sympathetic continuo accompaniments… The recording has been well-engineered so as to balance clarity and intimacy with the acoustic ambience of the venue as a whole.”
International Record Review [October 2012]
“Move over Bach; there is another Coffee Cantata! This collection of cantatas and instrumental pieces from France is both an effective anthology and an introduction to this young ensemble from California...  The two cantatas are sung by Jennifer Paulino, who has a very flexible and clear voice... The performers demonstrate a sensitive understanding of the unique style of French baroque music. I believe any lover of Bach’s Coffee Cantata (or any lover of coffee) would want to add this to his collection.”
Brewer, American Record Guide [September/October 2012]
“The performances by the quartet of musicians are extremely good. Annette Bauer’s recorder-playing has both a clear tone and finely nuanced ornamentation, while the continuo consisting of gambist Rebekah Ahrendt and harpsichordist Jonathan Rhodes provides a firm and often prescient underpinning. No retreating here, particularly in the suites, such as the jumpy “L’Enjouëment” of the Couperin suite, and I am particularly impressed by the dark rich tone that Ahrendt is able to conjure in the prelude of the Marais suite. Soprano Jennifer Paulino is able to provide the necessary clear voice and finely tuned ornaments required of this sort of music... this group has made an excellent start and I hope that it will be able to provide more of this repertory in the future. For lovers of that genteel style, this disc would be a fine addition to the collection.”
Bertil van Boer, Fanfare Issue 35:6 [July/August 2012]
“the charming cantatas by Bernier and Montéclair are welcome and very nicely sung by Jennifer Paulino, whose voice is more dulcet than many a French soprano I’ve heard. She’s just as expressive as many a French singer too… Les Grâces Françoises does provide a useful and entertaining entrée to the music of Bernier and Montéclair that might just lead you on to continued explorations of their work. A nicely intimate recording set down at Berkeley is a further incentive.”
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition [July 2012]
The word “grace” had several meanings during the French Baroque. Traditionally, the term referred to the Greco-Roman mythological Graces, representations of beauty, mirth, and good cheer. In music, “graces” was also a technical term, referring to the ornaments used to decorate or “grace” a piece of music. Finally, in a culture obsessed with rules of behavior and bon goût (good taste), grace in social interactions was especially important. The French character marking gracieusement, which one often finds in music of this period, hints at the concept’s centrality. The pieces on this recording exemplify these notions of musical grace.

By the beginning of the eighteenth century, two of the most common musical genres in the salons of Paris were the sonata and the cantata, Italian forms that became Frenchified when they crossed the Alps. Sonates and cantates, as they were called in French circles, were so omnipresent that one Parisian writer declared in 1715, “Cantatas and sonatas are born here beneath one’s feet. A
musician does not arrive anymore without the one or the other in his pocket.” Though the native French dance suite also maintained a robust presence in French publications, these suites too were frequently injected with a certain italianisme.

Since their debut in 2008, the Baroque ensemble Les grâces has performed in the United States and Europe to critical acclaim. Described as “an assemblage of equals, all masters of their instruments” (San Francisco Classical Voice), this group of friends came together to explore a shared love of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century music. The ensemble’s performances are equally inspired by the four young artists’ passionate musicianship and their collective study of
historical performance practices at leading conservatories in Europe and the United States. [ www.lesgraces.com ]

Described as “a player to watch” and praised for her “warm tone and fine form,” Rebekah Ahrendt performs regularly in the United States and Europe. A graduate of the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, she is in demand as a teacher and ensemble coach. Rebekah holds the Ph.D. in musicology from the University of California, Berkeley, and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at Tufts University.

Annette Bauer holds a degree in historical performance practice from the Schola Cantorum Basiliensis in Basel, Switzerland, and has also intensively studied classical Indian music at the Ali Akbar College of Music. In addition to her work with Les grâces, Annette co-directs the medieval ensemble Cançonièr, and regularly performs with Farallon Recorder Quartet and The Lost Mode, a cross-over project of medieval and modal music traditions. She frequently appears as guest performer with leading early music ensembles throughout the US.  [www.annettebauer.com]

American soprano Jennifer Paulino has traveled to four continents and dozens of countries in the name of her art. Known for her “warm”, “vibrant” voice and dramatic capability, she is increasingly in demand as a versatile concert artist, and feels at home singing baroque, classical and contemporary repertoire. She studied early music and classical styles at Westminster Choir College of Rider University and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. [ www.jenniferpaulino.com ]

Jonathan Rhodes Lee regularly performs as soloist, chamber musician, and in orchestras in the United States and abroad. He holds degrees from Colgate University, the San Francisco Conservatory, and UC Berkeley, and was a Fulbright scholar at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. Jonathan currently holds the Dolores Zohrab Liebmann fellowship, writing a Ph.D. on Handel’s oratorios and eighteenth-century sensibility. When he is not onstage performing, Jonathan is generally there tuning and maintaining harpsichords, organs, and fortepianos.
from Cantates françoises, 3eme livre (c. 1711)

from Les Goûts-réünis (1724)

MARIN MARAIS (1656-1728)
from Pièces de violes, 3eme livre (1711)

JACQUES DUPHLY (1715-1789)
from Pièces de clavecin, 3eme livre (1756)

from Cantates à une et à deux voix avec simphonie, 3eme livre (1728)

MSR Classics