One of the most grown-up review sites around

51,000 reviews
and more.. and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here



International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger             Senior Editor: John Quinn               Contact Seen and Heard here  

Some items
to consider


colourful imaginative harmony
Renate Eggebrecht violin

Leticia Gómez-Tagle
Chopin, Liszt, Scarlatti

Guillaume LEKEU

Book 1 Book 2 Book3
Mota The Triptych: -Website

Acte Prealable returns
with New Releases

Superior performance

Shostakovich 6&7 Nelsons

Verdi Requiem Thielemann

Marianna Henriksson
An outstanding recital

Arnold Bax
Be converted

this terrific disc

John Buckley
one of my major discoveries

François-Xavier Roth
A game-changing Mahler 3


Bryden Thomson


Vaughan Williams Concertos

RVW Orchestral


REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

Michel CORRETTE (1707-1795)
Les délices de la solitude - Sonatas Op. 20
Sonata in F, op. 20,1 [07:22]
Sonata in d minor, op. 20,2 [08:51]
Sonata in C, op. 20,3 [08:05]
Sonata in B flat, op. 20,4 [07:35]
Sonata in G, op. 20,5 [08:46]
Sonata in D, op. 20,6 [08:33]
Concerto in D 'Le Phénix' [08:28]
Opera Prima Ensemble (Federico Toffano (cello), François de Rudder (bassoon), Roberto Loreggian (harpsichord, organ), Gian Michele Constantin (organ))/Cristiano Contadin (viola da gamba)
rec. July 2015 Abbazia di Santa Maria delle Carceri, Carceri (Padua), Italy DDD

One of the features of the 18th century is the dissemination of domestic music making. An increasing number of people from the higher echelons of society wanted to play music at home with family and friends. As a result there was a large demand for music which was musically interesting but technically not too challenging. Among the composers who responded to this demand were Georg Philipp Telemann in Germany and Joseph Bodin de Boismortier and Michel Corrette in France.

Obviously, the people who played such music were amateurs. They needed to learn to play an instrument and in addition to taking lessons from professional teachers they were interested in treatises which gave them information on how to play an instrument or to interpret music correctly, for instance with regard to ornamentation. This explains why in the 18th century so many treatises were published, probably more than in any other era in history. One of the most prolific authors of such treatises was Michel Corrette. Between 1737 and 1784 he published no fewer than twenty treasises, most of which have been preserved and still give today's performers much information about playing techniques and interpretation in the 18th century.

In 1766 Corrette published Les délices de la solitude, including a set of six sonatas and a concise treatise on playing the cello. The sonatas had been published before: they were first printed around 1739 under the same title with the opus number 20. Musicologists have not been able to discover as yet why Corrette chose this title ("the delights of solitude") for these sonatas. The work-list in New Grove is a little confusing with regard to the scoring and so are the liner-notes in the booklet to the present recording. It is suggested that they are scored for cello, viola da gamba, bassoon and basso continuo. But these pieces are not quartets, they are solo sonatas. Unfortunately I haven't found a copy on the internet and therefore I could not check the notation. However, they have been recorded before as cello sonatas, and in this recording the viola da gamba takes the melody line in all the sonatas. The cello and the bassoon are only involved in the performance of the basso continuo and don't participate in every sonata.

The choice of the viola da gamba may surprise, considering that they seem to be intended for the cello. However, they were first published at a time when the cello was still developing in a kind of competition with the viola da gamba. Since the discovery of Italian music in France, the cello enjoyed an increasing popularity but in the late 1730s, when these sonatas were first printed, it was still a relatively new instrument and many amateurs continued to play the viola da gamba. Moreover, offering alternative scorings was a kind of sales promotion. Therefore the various instruments mentioned have to be considered alternatives: in addition to the viola da gamba and the cello, they could also be played on the bassoon.

The sonatas also reflect the growing popularity of Italian music. They are all in three or four movements and the titles are all in Italian, such as affettuoso or allegro staccato. Even the dances have Italian titles: corrente and sarabanda. The Sonata No. 4 closes with the only movement with a French title: bruit de chasse, but stylistically it is very Italian.

As I wrote, this set has been recorded before on the cello. This performance on the viola da gamba is a real alternative. From a historical point of view, the cello is the more obvious choice, but musically speaking these sonatas come off just as well on the viola da gamba. Cristiano Contadin is a very fine player of this instrument and in his hands these sonatas really come to life. The line-up in the basso continuo is different, which creates some variety. This disc also demonstrates that the fact that Corrette was such a prolific composer, especially of music for amateurs, cannot used against him. This is really good stuff and there is every reason to be happy that Corrette is taken more seriously these days.

Lovers of the viola da gamba, especially, are well advised to investigate this disc.

Johan van Veen



We are currently offering in excess of 51,000 reviews

Advertising on

Donate and keep us afloat


New Releases

Naxos Classical

Nimbus Podcast

Obtain 10% discount

Special offer 50% off
15CDs £83 incl. postage

Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off

Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger