Bergen Barokk: Suite Life” – Excerpts from var. suites composed by PHILIDOR, MARAIS, HOTTETERRE, CHEDEVILLE, COUPERIN – LAWO Classics multi-channel SACD LWC1096, 60:00 (10/14/16) ****1/2:

European court music from the 17th century.

The suites in this recording are taken from some of the many great music releases in Paris in the early 1700s. The releases, which were released “avec Privilege du Roy” (royal prerogative), reflecting ball, concerts, opera and ballet performances at the court and were well-received by a bourgeoisie filled with admiration for the luxurious lifestyles of the rich.

Bergen Barokk was established in 1994 and is today among the leading early music ensembles. On this recording we hear Frode Thorsen on the recorder, Hans Knut Sveen on harpsichord, Thomas Boysen and Thor-Harald Johnsen on lute and guitar instruments and Markku Luolajan-Mikkola on viola da gamba.

This is an attractive collection of court music, wonderfully played by the Bergen Barokk. It’s light music, very atmospheric. To my mind something to have on in the house rather than something I would sit in front of and engage in deep thoughts.

The sound on the disc is very good. I listened to the 5.0 mix, and found the ensemble up front, nicely imaged between my two speakers. The microphone positions are fairly close to the ensemble.The surrounds are very subtle, picking up just a hint of room ambiance. I think those were appropriate production decisions for this disc. The liner notes are quite interesting and well-written, giving insight to the composers, who, other than Couperin, might not be known to most listeners.

I had a pleasant hour absorbing this nicely recorded and well played music from this wonderful Norwegian group!

—Mel Martin