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François DEVIENNE (1759-1803)
Trio in G minor Op. 66/2 [15:42]
Trio in F major Op. 17/4 [13:33]
Trio in C major Op. 66/3 [18:34]
Trio in E flat major Op. 17/5 [8:35]
Trio in D major Op. 66/1 [15:05]
Le Petit Trianon
rec. 2019, église Notre-Dame de Centeilles, France
RICERCAR RIC416 [71:29]

François Devienne was talented both as a flautist and bassoonist and, surrounded by music and performing from an early age, is credited with creating new genres of music for wind instruments and generally raising the standard of orchestral playing in France. His name is probably most familiar to flautists who still study his etudes, but he also composed operas and was renowned as a teacher in Paris and beyond.

The trios in this recording were published in two volumes in 1782 and 1783 which puts them in pre-revolutionary France, representing the fashionable influences of Haydn and the Mannheim School. Further possible stylistic models cited in Jérôme Lejeune’s booklet notes include contemporaries such as the flautist Johann Baptist Wendling and bassoonist Georg Wenzel Ritter, composer musicians whose publications would have been floating around at the time and would have been known to Devienne as much as they were to the likes of Mozart.

Following the conventions of the day, these are pleasantly relaxed but highly inventive pieces that are beautifully presented in this very fine recording. Sonata form first movements are bookended by rondo/variation finales, with the flute trios in three movements and the bassoon trios in two. If you need any convincing of the quality of this music try the gorgeous central Adagio of the Trio in C Op. 66/3, which has just about everything, including the tick-tock of Haydn’s symphony “The Clock”. Olivier Riehl’s transverse flute has a lovely soft tone with plenty of refinement and colour, and Xavier Marquis’ bassoon contrasts nicely with its boxy resonance but surprising expressive range. With no harpsichord filling in harmonies and adding texture there is still plenty of variety, and indeed some may welcome the absence of jangle in this sound. Virtuosity in the ‘solo’ instruments is relatively restrained, and Devienne mixes things up to give the strings plenty to do as well, so this is true chamber music in the best way.

Le Petit Trianon was admired for its recording of Boismortier Sonatas (review) also on the Ricercar label, and collectors of music from this period will greatly enjoy these trios. The complete Op. 17 trios can be found on a Canadian recording on the Atma label (review) but recordings of his chamber music are hardly thick on the ground, and so this selection is very welcome indeed.

Dominy Clements

Previous review: Johan van Veen
Olivier Riehl (transverse flute)
Amandine Solano (violin)
Cyril Poulet (cello)
Xavier Marquis (bassoon)

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