The Trio Sonata in 18 th-century France
François COUPERIN (1668-1733)
L’Impériale (from Les Nations)[26:10]
Charles DOLLÉ (?1710-?1755)
Sonata in G minor, Op. 1 No. 6 [10:25]
Jean-Marie LECLAIR (1697-1764)
Sonata in G minor, Op. 13 No. 6 [14:26]
Joseph Bodin de BOISMORTIER (1682-1765)
Trio in E minor, Op. 37 No. 2 [5:47]
Jean-Pierre GUIGNON (1702-74)
Sonata in D Major, Op. 4 No. 2 [12:57]
London Baroque (Ingrid Seifert (violin), Richard Gwilt (violin) Charles Medlam (bass viol), Steven Devine (harpsichord))
rec. October 2010, St. Martin’s Church, East Woodhay, Hampshire, England
BIS CD 1855 [71:05]

The works on this disc were all written during a crucial stage in the development of French and Italian music, where the two styles were becoming ever more similar due to the combining of ideas from both schools.
The CD starts with by far the most successful composition on the disc, F. Couperin’s L’Impériale from the collection Les Nations which was published in 1726. The first movements of each of the pieces in this collection were re-workings of early suites, creating substantial and complex overtures to the dance movements that follow. The grace and poise, which is so reminiscent of French music of this period, is always present in the performance of this work. However, there are also moments of sorrow, tension and joy that give a truly human quality to this recording, something that can be lacking when performers are overly concerned with “historical authenticity”.
Charles Dollé was a Parisian performer on and composer for the viol. He published three books for the pardessus de viole, which is the very smallest viol and very popular with ladies in the 18th century. The book that the Sonata in G minor is from was published as trios for violins, flutes or viols. London Baroque does a wonderful job with this piece. It is harmonically and structurally less complex than Couperin or even the harpsichord suites of Louis-Claude Daquin, yet the ensemble manage to tease every ounce of expression from it. The opening of the first movement is particularly wonderful. The most interesting aspect of Leclair’s Sonata is the fact that he was murdered! The linear notes claim that the murderer was either his wife or his nephew. Leclair, who was actually born in Italy, was very well travelled. This is audible from his music; it is less restrained than the other works. The Allegro ma non troppo could have been played faster and with less sense of responsibility, however, the Aria is a delightful little movement which is written without continuo instruments. Seifert and Gwilt converse beautifully. The last two pieces on the disc, by Boismortier and Guignon, are rather disappointing compositions compared to the other works. The ensemble does their best with them but they really don’t have much to work with. Perhaps another Couperin trio to finish the recording would have been more worthwhile.
The real success of this CD is not the repertoire choice, but the superb playing from all the players. Occasionally less caution could be employed in the faster movements - whatever the tempo indications are - but overall this is a thoroughly enjoyable disc. With informative linear notes and a stylish cover this should be an essential addition to any music-lover’s library.
Hannah Parry-Ridout

Superb playing, full of human emotion.