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A weakness of the lute, its detractors might say, is it thinness of texture, for it can barely sustain four voices – and commonly just three, with a big chord or two at cadences. This fault (if it is a fault) is remedied in the instrument’s duet repertoire; the English and Italian duet repertoires are now staple concert and CD fare, with some recent forays into the German baroque duet repertoire on disc. This CD offers a long-overdue entrée into the luscious and utterly enchanting world of the French baroque lute duet, with a programme of contrepartie duets, composed on solos by Dufaut, Pierre Dubut, and two of the Gaultier clan, Ennemond and Denis. The ‘second’ parts are scattered in various manuscripts, which is perhaps why we have had to wait so long for such a recording, though happily they fall into ‘suites’ in a manageable handful of keys.

The disc is topped and tailed by newly composed duets, with contreparties by Tyler Kaiser on chaconnes by Mouton and by Emmemond Gaultier. The duo play their music on two gut strung 11-course lutes by Dan Larson, and the sound is delicious. Duets impose a rhythmic discipline which I think generally benefits French baroque music. There is even accompanying sheet music and music-minus-one discs available for would-be baroque lute duettists. One of most worthwhile lute projects of recent years, and highly recommended.

Chris Goodwin Read the full review on Agora Classica

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Early Music Today, 2015 - ©Rhinegold Publishing