Guillemain: Flute Quartets Op.12

Louis-Gabriel Guillemain: Flute Quartets Op.12 (1743)
Fantasticus, Wilbert Hazelezet
Resonus Classics,  RES10222. 2CDs, 44’13+44’44

Louis-Gabriel Guillemain (1705-1770) was a French composer and violinist. He started his violin studies in Paris and later studied in Italy. By 1729, Guillemain was working in Lyons and was soon appointed the first violinist of the Acadèmie de Musique. His Premier livre de sonates was published in 1734. Guillemain moved back to Paris becoming a musicien ordinaire to Louis XV and before long became one of the court’s highest-paid musicians. The Six sonates en quatuors ou conversations galantes for flute, violin, bass viol and continuo recorded here was published in 1743, when he was at the height of his career.

Flautist Wilbert Hazelezet joins the Amsterdam-based early music trio Fantasticus (Rie Kimura, violin, Robert Smith, gamba and Guillermo Brachetta, harpsichord) for this recording of the first of two sets of Sonates en Quatuors by Guillemain. It reveals Guillermo as very much a composer of his time, catering for the increasing musical needs of the emerging middle class, in the manner that Telemann had done some years earlier.

Aimed at talented amateur musicians, his music is comfortably within the Galant style of the period, easy on the ear, harmonically relatively uncomplicated, and with a focus on the melodic line. The title of Quatuors is relevant, in that it implies equality of status amongst the four players, something that is not always apparent in this recording. The flute is slightly louder than the three other musicians, unbalancing the intended consort sound. Judging from the photo of the recording in the programme booklet, this is the result of post-production tweak, as the four players are in close formation, with the violinist to the left, facing outwards, and the flute to the right, facing away from what would have been the audience and would, I think, have produced a more coordinated sound ‘live’.

That said, this isan attractive musical programme. Guillemain’s music bubbles along nicely, causing nobody any real harm or emotional turbulence.