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Charles Mouton (c.1629–c.1699) lived to see the decline of the lute in France, shortly after reaching what aficionados of the French baroque regard as the greatest heights of subtlety and sophistication in the long history of the instrument. French baroque lute music seems like a final consummation of the renaissance tradition of music as poetry with words – the ‘rhetoric of the gods’, as one collection of the time was entitled. Mouton was unusual in leaving very precise instructions about fingering and ornaments in his printed work – the consequence of a lifetime of teaching in Paris, perhaps – which is just as well as these details affect the very difficult subtleties of rhythm and phrasing, on which this music stands or falls. As Ericson points out there are misprints, and he has turned to the important Lobkowicz Manuscript for reference too. Here he plays four suites, in three minor keys, on a very beautiful sounding 11-course lute by Lars Jönsson, all strung in gut. The timbre of the lute is as convincing as it is attractive, and the recording faultless, with a bright immediate quality. Ericson’s playing, which is fairly free with the underlying tactus, is sincere and committed throughout, and makes a strong case for a composer who has been much anthologised, but has only been the subject of one or two single-composer discs to date.

Christopher Goodwin Read the full review on Agora Classica

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