Some brilliant playing here, though with an undeniably cautious approach
The Strad Issue: July 2020
Description: Some brilliant playing here, though with an undeniably cautious approach
Musicians: Alana Youssefian (Baroque violin) Le Bien-Aimé
Works: Guillemain Violin Sonatas: in B minor op.1 no.3, in E flat major op.1 no.6, in C minor op.1 no.8; Symphonies dans le goût italien: in G major op.6 no.1, in E flat major op.14 no.2, in G major op.14 no.6
Catalogue Number: AVIE RECORDS AV2412
Alana Youssefian’s debut disc comprises accurate, idiomatic and technically accomplished accounts of selected sonatas and rococo pseudo-chamber symphonies by the French violinist Louis-Gabriel Guillemain, a pupil of Giovanni Battista Somis and a violinist at the court of Louis XV. She acknowledges the sonatas’ Italian influences, adding a modicum of appropriate, if somewhat predetermined ornamentation, and is equal to their varied bravura challenges; but her overall interpretative approach seems to err on the side of caution. Phrasing is clearly defined, sometimes unnaturally so to the point of becoming wearisome. Prestos such as the finales of the three symphonies are more of a trot than a gallop, and her tendency to telegraph each technical hurdle (notably in the finale of op.1 no.8) serves only to erode any credible claim for ‘undeniable brilliance’.
Le Bien-Aimé (violin, cello and harpsichord) provides solid support and shows commendable sensitivity to expressive melodic and harmonic detail, particularly in the Allemanda of the two-movement op.1 no.6. Ensemble interplay is excellent – sample the finale of op.14 no.2 – and cellist Matt Zucker occasionally shows his mettle in a more prominent role, notably in op.1 no.3. The resonant church acoustic and clear, natural recording serve these players well in terms of blend and balance.