Francoeur: Sonates à violon seul et basse continue, Livre I

Kreeta-Maria Kentala, Lauri Pulakka, Mitzi Meyerson
124:12 (2 CDs in a wallet)
Glossa GCD921809

As both listener and performer I’ve encountered and enjoyed isolated sonatas by Francoeur before, so I wasn’t at all surprised by the entertainment provided by the whole of his Livre 1. After a period of study the composer (1698-1787!) joined the ‘24 violons . . .’ in 1730. Further honours followed and he was a close colleague of François Rebel in several prestigious enterprises, though his career had a less happy end. In general, the slow movements of these sonatas are broadly French in character, contrasting most effectively with the more Italianate allegros, and the many skilful nuances in the playing reflect this diversity. Being really picky, I did wonder whether or not the gamba would have been a more likely bass continuo instrument, but I absolutely applaud the unfussy scoring (all harpsichord and cello) and the sensitivity of the playing in support of the spirited top line. The booklet’s essay (Eng/Fre/Ger) is concise but nonetheless tells us what we need to know about the music and instruments, though there is no information about the players.

David Hansell