« Cirri is most obviously celebrated here in such a work intended for an opera interval, his Cello Concerto No 2 in G – a suavely virtuoso number that Gaillard performs on her 1737 Goffriller with mellow-voiced lyricism and lithe agility to lightly springing orchestral support, retaining a rounded softness even in the upper-register lines of the central Largo assai. From there we jump to variations on popular folk tunes by Scottish cellist James Oswald, who moved to London in 1741 and was chamber composer to George III. These offer a whole fresh bag of pleasures, moving from the dancing ‘The Murrays March’, complete with percussion and guitar, to the sombre serenity of ‘My Nanio’, before the ensemble reprise of ‘She’s sweetest when she’s naked’, which Gaillard first presents at the top of the programme as a haunting solo-cello teaser. Gaillard’s folky inflections and multi-hued articulation are seductive in the extreme, and second time around there’s the added gift of up-tempo further variations led with rich-toned soul by violinist Pablo Valetti.
Which leads me to Gaillard’s various collaborators. Space precludes mentioning all their contributions but they’re each to be savoured for their individual flavours. Handel’s ‘Credete al mio dolore’ is especially beautiful for the tender duetting between Gaillard and Sandrine Piau, not least as the golden purity of Piau’s soprano tones strikingly complements Gaillard’s own tones. The recording, made in Paris’s Temple Saint-Pierre, is eminently natural and warm. » – Gramophone, Charlotte Gardner
« A recording high on atmosphere, with some genuine rarities. This could easily have been just another disc of 18th-century cello concertos and concerti grossi. Instead, by mixing genres and styles – concertos, cantatas, operatic arias, Scottish traditional tunes and English folk arrangements – the irrepressible Gaillard and her band create an evocative musical collage of the richness of London’s musical life in the mid-18th century.
A haunting solo cello version of Scottish cellist James Oswald’s She’s sweetest when she’s naked opens the programme, transporting us back in time to Handel’s London, where his operatic rival Nicola Porpora and the latter’s fellow cello virtuoso Giovanni Battista Cirri are represented by two sparkling cello concertos. Gaillard draws her expression from the bow in the elegant twists and turns of Cirri’s Largo, and the outer movements of Porpora’s G major Concerto are particularly exciting, with the rapid string-crossing given with a nice bite.
There is exuberant, percussive playing from the members of Pulcinella, with a sympathetic recording that brings out the depth of texture. Rough edges there may be, but there is energy aplenty as the musicians slam into the accents in Hasse’s Fugue, whipping up a veritable storm of semiquavers; and Geminiani’s English folk-song arrangements and Oswald’s Scottish songs take us into the taverns, with percussion adding to the convivial atmosphere. » – The Strad, avril 2022
« Elégance rythmique, lyrisme radieux et précision d’articulation jusque dans les traits les plus fougueux et les cadences les plus époustouflantes » – 5 diapasons, Diapason 2022
« Deux pépites lyriques agrémentent le programme : Sandrine Piau emprunte à l’ALcina de Handel son “Credete al mio dolore” (avec violoncelle concertant) et Lucile Richardot chante avec sobriété et éloquence un Song Tune de Geminiani. Elle y énonce un véritable manifeste en faveur du Good taste in the Art of Musick, dont Ophélie Gaillard et ses brillants comparses de Pulcinella se font les convaincants apôtres. » – Diapason 2022, Denis Morrier