Arne’s seven Trio Sonatas, three in minor keys, published
in 1757, have generally speaking, been less well regarded than other
trio sonatas of their period. For example they have been thought inferior
to Boyce’s twelve, recorded so successfully a few years ago by Hyperion.
It has been suggested that the reason for this is their galant
idiom, as compared indeed with Boyce and other contemporary British
exponents, including Handel. If this is the case, it is hard to understand
as they are well made works readily displaying Arne’s gift for melody
and equally characteristic vitality.
It is good to see that they have at last been done
justice, on CD at least. Colleguim Musicum 90, playing on 17th or 18th
century instruments, perform them in splendid style. There is some variety
in their layout; four sonatas (Nos 2,4,5 and 6) are in the standard
slow-fast-slow-fast sequence. Nos 1 and 7 are in five movements with
an extra dance movement added at or near the end, while No 3 has just
three (slow-quickish-quick). They vary in length from 5½ to 15½ minutes.
And Galant they may be but they are also clearly
aware of the English trio sonata tradition stretching back some seventy
years to Purcell.