Balicourt, Simon, Set 2: Sonatas nos. 3 in F major and 4 in C minor
Simon Balicourt (1706–1757), during a London career that lasted from 1735 (the year he arrived from the Continent) until his death, was a leading flautist and flute composer. He left two sets of flute sonatas, published in 1750 and 1760 respectively, each containing eight beautifully polished and musically imaginative works that draw equally on his German background and on the French-influenced tradition of flute-playing in his adoptive country. Suitable for both educational use and concert performance, these pieces – now appearing for the first time in a modern critical edition – deserve a place at the forefront of the late baroque repertory for transverse flute.
In Sonata 3 in F major the opening Largo is styled as a ‘Siciliana’, an especially common type of movement in the flute repertory on account of the instrument’s pastoral associations. The following Spiritoso is both tuneful and energetic, and excitement increases in the concluding Presto, with its colourful, piquant harmonies.
Sonata 4 is in the shadowy key of C minor, a relatively rare instance in 18th-century flute music because of intonation difficulties. The opening Arioso is attractively plaintive, while the subsequent Allegro moderato is characterized by some highly effective imitative interplay between flute and bass. The soulful Cantabile finale, in minuet style, is reminiscent of similar C minor movements in the music of Alessandro Scarlatti and Francesco Geminiani.
Music example No. 3 (pdf)
Music example No. 4 (pdf)