While many instruments vie for best expressing the language of love, St Colombe's seven-string version of the viola da gamba is clearly among the leaders. It has been described as the "best imitator of the human voice." In this album, two excellent gambists and a lutenist support the resplendent voice of Suzie LeBlanc in presenting three 17th Century French composers. Lambert, Le Camus, and St Colombe represent the finest musical traditions of the era of the Sun King, Louis XIV, in dealing with the "Tender Land" of love and desire. In selecting the pieces comprising this album, this group demonstrates a fine sense of feeling for the time. As the notes attest, a mid-17th Century ten volume novel, Cecile, typified the courtier's approach to the mysteries of "amour." Love was a consuming topic for poets, essayists, but particularly musicians. The selections are comprised of six instumentals and seven accompanied vocals, all exquisitely performed.
History and literature aside, it is the performance offered to the listener that makes this CD extraordinary. Suzie LeBlanc's voice can only be called radiant. Pure and unblemished, her singing carries the mood of each song with soaring resolution. Such voices are rare, especially among sopranos, her singing captures the listener's attention, evoking a range of emotions. Clear, unaffected and forceful, LeBlanc's performance here is among her best offerings for lovers of voice.
LeBlanc's instrumental companions include Les Voix Humaines and lutenist Stephen Stubbs. Les Voix Humaines, Susie Napper and Margaret Little bring well-honed talents for the Baroque da gamba to this collection. Their virtuoso duet performances provide an elegant background for LeBlanc in addition to several outstanding instrumental selections. The duet amply express why the da gamba was considered the equal of the human voice in expressing emotion.