Joseph Bodin de Boismortier’s [VI] Sonates en Trio Pour deux Violons avec la Baße Op. 18 appeared in 1727, the same year in which the composer published a number of other ground-breaking compositions, including the strikingly original VI Concertos Pour 5 Flûtes-Traversieres ou autres Instrumens sans Baße Op. 15, the [VI] Sonates Pour la Flute-Traversiere avec la Baße Op. 19 and the [VI] Sonates A Violon seul avec la Baße Op. 20. All of these are overtly Italian as regards their musical language and formal organization.
Partly on account of their instrumentation, the Op. 18 sonatas are closely modelled on Corelli’s Opp. 1–4, both in terms of style and violin technique. Each consists of four or five movements, at least one being a dance; most of the slow movements feature the familiar Corellian “walking bass”, while one of the fast movements in each sonata is fugal or based on imitative entries. In spite of their adherence to Italian models, however, the sonatas do display certain French elements, along with characteristics of Boismortier’s individual style. The harmonic language is particularly rich, with a marked predilection for chords of the seventh, and two of the sonatas feature the composer’s own version of a (loosely constructed) double fugue.
Boismortier’s Op. 18 would appear to have been hastily forgotten in the wake of other French trio sonatas that were more “violinistically” conceived and more technically interesting. Nevertheless, it is clear that these expertly crafted works — veritable gems of high-baroque French instrumental music — served as the models for the very compositions that superseded them, such as the trio sonatas of Quentin (Op. 4, 1729), Leclair (Op. 4, 1730) and Mondonville (Op. 2, 1734).