These six Sonatas represent some of Cherubini's earliest published
compositions (Florence, c1783). The disc therefore offers the
opportunity to experience and assess another side of a composer
better known for his operas (especially Médée
of 1797) and liturgical music (amongst which two Requiem
Masses figure highly). Whilst Gluck and Mozart are the dominant
influences on Cherubini's vocal output, it is Haydn whose paternal
compositional hand can be felt on the young Cherubini's shoulder.
All the works are in two movements.
There is much to enjoy in these charming Sonatas,
not least a spirited joie de vivre, an appealing wit
and an almost all-pervasive charm. Be warned, however: they
are perpetually well behaved. All six in one sitting might be
too much of a good thing (all together they last for well over
One should, whatever ones reservations, ultimately
be grateful to musicians like Paule van Parys (or, indeed, Lya
De Barberiis on a recent Warner Fonit disc) for bringing this
music to the record buyers attention. The bright sound of Parys's
chosen instrument and the high recording level seem entirely
appropriate to this music. It must be admitted that the enthusiasm
does seem to flag somewhat (were they recorded absolutely in
order?): the Allegro spirituoso of the Sixth Sonata hardly warrants
its designation, and the wit of the first movement of the Third
is largely missed. Worse, Parys does Cherubini no favours when
gliding over the (already fairly thin) surface of the First
Sonatas second movement, or when being plain cumbersome (the
second movement of the Second Sonata). Perhaps as a general
rule sprightlier tempi would have injected a spring in the step.
The Cherubini discography is without doubt
in need of expansion and it would have been a great pleasure
to recommend this disc. In reality, however, van Parys is likely
to win few over to Cherubini's cause.