Journey back to Restoration London in a satisfying and well-researched recital

Matteis Julien-Laferriere

The Strad Issue: November 2020

Description: Journey back to Restoration London in a satisfying and well-researched recital

Musicians: Alice Julien-Laferrière (violin) Ground Floor

Works: Works by Matteis, Locke, Schop, Finger and Banister

Catalogue number: HARMONIA MUNDI HMN 916117

This most enjoyable recital gives an interesting overview of violin music in Restoration London, a period that saw the instrument gradually replacing viol consorts in audiences’ favour. Pride of place in the programme is given to the Neapolitan violinist Nicola Matteis, one of several Italian musicians who settled in Britain when a royal wedding in 1674 brought an Italian princess to London as wife to the Duke of York. Those indefatigable music-loving diarists, John Evelyn and Roger North, have left invaluable testimonies of Matteis’s instrumental prowess, which we can now appreciate by means of music from his 1685 collection, Ayres for the violin. A suite in A minor is perhaps the most violinistically virtuosic, particularly in its unaccompanied prelude, that feature arpeggio figurations and an intriguing modulatory section; there follow movements with suggestive titles like ‘movimento incognito’ or ‘sarabanda amorosa’. The ‘alamande’ brings forth some sharp spiccato from Alice Julien-Laferrière, who consistently plays with an agreeably earthy tone and delivers admirably clear runs in the suite’s final gavotte.

The CD begins with Johann Schop’s Lachrime Pavaen, an intricately embellished setting of John Dowland’s evergreen. Later on, a suite in D minor by the Moravian-born Godfrey Finger sounds positively Purcellian with its French-style overture followed by several chromatically tinged genre pieces. A melancholic suite in E minor by Matthew Locke seems to look back wistfully to pre-Civil War times. The musicians of Ground Floor accompany their soloist idiomatically throughout this vividly recorded recital and come into their own in Matteis’s Guitar Suite, stylishly ‘orchestrated’ for guitar, harpsichord, harp and cello.