Blai Justo

Juan de Ledesma: Sonatas para violin y bajo

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The revival of Spanish music of the Baroque period continues moving forward into the Classical era with this premiere recording of sonatas for "violin y bajo" -- violin and bass -- by Juan de Ledesma. The sonatas were rediscovered only in the late 1980s, and they're very elegantly presented here in a package adorned by a reproduction of a marvelous French fan of the period. There isn't anything of earthshaking importance among the five sonatas on the disc, but they're attractive pieces with some challenges for the violinist, and both players of the instruments and those with collections of Spanish music will find the release of interest. The booklet notes by violinist Blai Justo (in English, French, and German, with Spanish and Catalan additionally available online) point to Corelli's influence, but also note the presence of the galant style of the period, and it is the latter sound, with its atmosphere of charm and its relaxed procession of contrasting two-measure phrases, that predominates. The players do well to avoid a harpsichord accompaniment, using either a combination of cello and guitar or one or the other instrument alone. No evidence is adduced for the authenticity of this practice, but it makes musical sense: it results in a chamber-duet feel, whereas a keyboard continuo plunking out chords would have worked at cross-purposes with the music. Each sonata is in three movements, with a few Spanish-style surprises like the Boccherini-style "Minué" third movement (track 3) of the Sonata in A major for violin and bass. Justo executes the profusion of ornaments smoothly, but he's not served well by the sound environment of the church of Notre-Dame de l'Assomption in Basse-Bodeux, Belgium; it is a chilly, cavernous space entirely inappropriate to chamber music written for convivial gatherings of well-off patrons.

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