Colin St. Martin

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier: Complete Sonatas for Harpsichord and Flute

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Joseph Bodin de Boismortier's Flute Sonatas, Op. 91, are well known to flutists, but they deserve a wider audience. They are very attractive both in their melodies and in the way the two instruments are balanced. Boismortier, like Bach in his sonatas for violin and keyboard, specifically wrote out the harpsichord part rather than use the older practice of a figured bass. This allowed him to use the harpsichord more as a partner to the flute and serve a role very close to that of the orchestra in Vivaldi's concertos, where it shares some of the thematic duties as well as accompanying the soloist. And the sonatas do have a very Italianate sound. The opening of Sonata No. 4 is as energetic as the finale of Vivaldi's Summer Concerto. Beyond that, however, are the signs of the emerging galant style: the very graceful nature and easy appeal of the music, both to the listener and performer. The two performers here, Colin St. Martin on flute and Christina Scott Edelen at the harpsichord, capture that gracefulness with great charm, while giving the gayement movements an elegant liveliness and animated momentum. St. Martin has a soft-edged, but clear tone that lends itself well to the charming music. The recording balances the flute and harpsichord well, allowing the softness of the instruments complement the music, rather than trying to get too close to the harpsichord or increasing the volume of the flute, or making the music too warm and heavy in general. This is a relatively brief album, but the music and performance are nonetheless very rewarding.

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