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Unico: Dutch Recorder Sonatas From The Early 18th Century – Teun Wisse

Unico: Dutch Recorder Sonatas From The Early 18th Century – Teun Wisse

Challenge Classics  CC72943

Stereo/Multichannel Hybrid

Classical - Chamber


Jean-Baptiste Loeillet De Gant: Sonata No. 3 in G Major – XII Sonatas a and Flute & Basse Continue
Sybrandus Van Noordt: Sonata No. 1 à Fluto Solo é Basso Continuo. F Major – Mélange Italien, Sonata No. 4 Cimbalo Solo In A Minor – Mélange Italien
Willem De Fesch: Sonata No. 3 In G Major - XII Sonata Op. 8
Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer: Sonata Prima in F Major, Sonata Seconda in G Minor, Sonata Terza in G Minor

Teun Wisse, recorder
Teun Braken, harpsichord

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Review by Adrian Quanjer - June 14, 2023

His ‘Sei Concerti Armonici’ have for a long time been attributed to Giovanni Battista Pergolesi. It wasn’t until the nineteen-eighties that it became unmistakably clear that these were composed by His Excellency the Dutch Ambassador Extraordinary to the French Court, Count Unico Wilhelm van Wassenaer. One wonders why that was so. Was it because the Count preferred to remain incognito, as in those days composers did not enjoy the same social status as a notable and noble diplomat, or was it that no one could believe that a nobleman was capable of such creative craftsmanship? In our time, the question has lost its social relevance. And besides, we now know better. Unico used his spare time (?) to compose. And he did it well. With numerous recordings of his 6 Concerti Armonici now clearly on the map, it’s high time that more of van Wassenaer’s musical legacy is put on record.

Taking center stage on this new Challenge Classics release focusing on Dutch Baroque composers, Mssrs Teun & Teun let us savour some of the Count’s lesser-known brainchildren. Together with equally unknown Sonatas for Recorder and Harpsichord from other Dutch composers like de Gant (from the Flemish part of The Netherlands, now Belgium), van Noordt and de Fesch, we are offered a programme that fills an important gap in most libraries and especially those of music lovers demanding the highest recording standards.

None of it is thus far available in Super Audio. We owe it to Challenge Classics having assured the services of Bert van der Wolf’s NorthStar engineering services that these Sonatas can be played at the highest available sound quality. However, excellent sound is one thing, the real proof of the pudding is in the playing. Dutch-born Teun Wisse, the recorder player, is a three-fold specialist in his field: Player, Teacher and collector of historical recorders. His musical focus lies in Switzerland. His Dutch duo partner, Teun Braken, also perfectioned at the famous Scola Cantorum Basiliensis, has performed in several top Dutch period formations. So, the virtuoso groundwork could hardly be better.

I've always held the recorder in high esteem. I once had, like perhaps many others, a recorder. Not the one which Teun Wisse is playing, but the simple wood tube with a few holes in it and a mouthpiece. It allowed me to play simple melodies, but I never got any further than Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, etc. That’s probably why I find it close to witchcraft that specialists can produce any tone using a similarly limited number of holes, whilst, for instance, a harpsichord has a dedicated key for each.

That said, It won’t surprise anyone that listening to Wisse I was immediately impressed by the way he so effortlessly moulded the scores into a pleasing and attractive series of melodies conveying what these Dutch Baroque composers no doubt would have wanted the audience to hear. Enthusiastically supported by Teun Braken, who is not only a gifted harpsichord player having already earned his salt elsewhere, but in this particular case also and more importantly a skilled accompanist. He takes full responsibility for delivering the fundament, a condition sine qua non for a duo to successfully operate.

Their given names may be difficult to pronounce, but one thing is perfectly clear: Their common achievement is strikingly in TUNE.


Blangy-le-Chateau, Normandy, France.

Copyright © 2023 Adrian Quanjer and HRAudio.net

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