Boismortier, Joseph Bodin de: FourTrio Sonatas, Op. 78
Boismortier’s final surviving set of trio sonatas, the [IV] Sonates pour deux flutes traversieres avec la basse, Op. 78, dates from late 1739 or early 1740. With this set the composer has, in a sense, come full circle, as these works recall his very first ‘sonates en trio’, Op. 4, of 1724: both sets are scored for two flutes and continuo and all sonatas have four movements. But while the earlier works are outwardly French — French movement titles, dynamics and tempo indications, and use of French time signatures and the French violin clef — the Op. 78 pieces are ostensibly Italian.
The individual works are expertly crafted, and collectively they contain much charming music, including two excellent three-part fugues, and several dances that surely typify the kind of popular music heard in Paris during the late 1730s. Evidently written for amateur musicians, the Op. 78 sonatas are technically accessible and set in tonalities comfortable for the one-keyed flute, which makes them particularly attractive for today’s students of that instrument.
“This music is both accomplished (there are two three-part fugues) and accessible. Skill and invention abound, as in the fugal Presto of the Sonata in G major, no. 3, with its appealing subject and rhythmic dynamism, which rounds off the sonata in an exciting manner. There is an excellent Introduction by the editor (in English with a German translation), preceded by a portrait of Boismortier by Jean Ranc, with Michael Talbot’s expert continuo realisation, and a fascinating ‘yawning’ self-portrait by Joseph Ducreux (c. 1783) on the cover.”
Read the review in The Consort