As we know, in the eighteenth century France was the arbiter of fashion for many different aspects of European life. Almost everything that originated in Paris spread across neighbouring countries with the speed of light – the latest outfits, ideas, way of life, amusements, philosophical theories, dances, catchwords and even the bizarre affectation of rolling your ‘R’s in conversation. Thus an habitué of Paris salons seemed extraordinarily appealing as a man of culture who could be affable, brilliantly witty, something of a philosopher and a libertine, too, but undoubtedly a gallant gentleman.
The final touch in the image of this irresistible favourite of high society was his devotion to music for the flute: since every dandy was expected to understand flute music it had a ready audience, even if many were unable to play the instrument. The exceptionally elegant and delicate sound of the flute was a synonym for the agreeable evenings with an intimate circle of friends that had featured in Parisian life since the flowering of rococo style, and the chamber music-making that accompanied it. This was the instrument of choice in the musical pursuits of inveterate music lovers, social lions and even monarchs: Frederick the Great of Prussia liked to play the flute, just as his grandfather Frederick I had played to harpsichord accompaniment by his spouse. This fashion for the flute was reflected in literature of the early 19th century – in Sheridan’s ‘The School for Scandal’, Griboyedov’s ‘Woe from Wit’ and Dickens’ ‘David Copperfield’.
Total time: 01:03:51
Microphones – Neumann km130 DPA (B & K) 4006 ; DPA (B & K) 4011 SCHOEPS mk2S ; SCHOEPS mk41
|Original Recording Format|
Erdo Groot, Roger de Schot
5th Studio of the Russian Television and Radio, Moscow
|Recording Type & Bit Rate||
|Release Date||September 11, 2015|
Audiophile Audition Review: BOISMORTIER: Sonatas for Harpsichord and Flute
Understandably one of the composer’s most-loved works.
Boismortier was a French Baroque composer who lived until 1755 and is distinguished for having been one of the first composers to make huge profits from publishing his music for public sale, and having no patrons. A music theorist of the time wrote of him “Happy be Boismortier, who fertile pen can give birth without pain to a new piece of music every month.” To this, Boismortier would simply reply: “I’m earning money.” He used the Italian concerto form and wrote many works for both instruments and voice. He dedicated his six sonatas of 1742 to a celebrated French flutist and composer, Michel Blavet, and due to their creative and graceful nature the works have remained among the most popular of Boismortier’s.
The instrument of choice for an agreeable evening with an intimate circle of friends in Paris during this time was the transverse flute. It was known for its delicate sound and it had a ready audience. It was known as the “German flute,” and it gradually replaced its predecessor, the recorder. Boismortier was fascinated by the flute, and his legacy includes works for from two to even five flutes, and combined with other instruments. Surprisingly, nobody else prior to Boismortier had thought of combining the transverse flute with the harpsichord, though it was a natural. Both instruments were at the very height of Parisian fashion.
Thus the Six Sonatas went over most successfully. Their three-movement structure carries French titles, but corresponds to the Italian system of Allegro/Grazioso/Allegro. Boismortier joked that he put in “melodies like butterflies,” but both instrumental parts have complexities and depth.
Olga Martinova and Ivan Bushuev both use fine period instruments, respectively a replica of a Parisian Blanchet harpsichord (1730) and a 2002 reconstruction of a Belgian traverse flute of the 1760s. The soft-edged, woody timbre of the Baroque flute is quite distinctive, and melds happily with the harpsichord. Their duo playing is sensitive and stylish, exploring the very tuneful and graceful sonatas with élan and impeccable technique. So natural is the stereo and 5.0 DSD recording that the sonics don’t call attention to themselves, providing all the detailed instrumental timbres required in a venue which bestows a lovely bloom.
So charming and disarming is this music and its execution, lovers of Baroque music and especially flautists should not miss this album.
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