The Trio Sonata in 18th-Century France

London Baroque


With the previous instalment of their survey of the trio sonata during the 17th and 18th centuries, the four members of London Baroque offered up what the website described as 'a delightful palette full of grace and esprit', presenting music by composers active in 18th-century England. Crossing the Channel, they have now arrived in France, and a musical environment undergoing rapid changes following the death of Louis XIV in 1715. The rigours of the Grand Siècle were relaxing and the stiff resistance against the Italian influences of Corelli was weakening. In 1725 François Couperin published his famous Apothéose de Lulli, in which he advocated a fusion of the Italian and French styles, and the following year saw the collection Les Nations, which included L'Impériale recorded here. In it Couperin continued his mission, combining an Italian-style sonata with a sequence of dances in the French manner. Jean-Marie Leclair and his colleague (and great rival) Jean-Pierre Guignon took this one step further - Leclair studied and worked in Turin before making his mark in France, and Guignon was in fact born in Italy, as Giovanni Pietro Ghignone, and only arrived in France when he was in his twenties. Both of these rather extravagant characters were fêted violinists as well as composers, and wrote music mainly for their own instrument in an often virtuosic style. Their complete opposite, at least in terms of life-style, was Joseph Bodin de Boismortier, who was not known as a performer, and instead managed to make a very good living by composing a large number of small-scale works aimed at wealthy amateurs.


The real success of this CD is not the repertoire choice, but the superb playing from all the players. ...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. MusicWeb International

London Baroque offers a selection of mostly unfamiliar yet often inspired French baroque trio sonatas...given the case London Baroque makes for them, they clearly deserve to be heard.
Listening to these virtuoso performers swing through much of Couperin’s glorious music is often dazzling. As is often the case with London Baroque recordings, bass violist Charles Medlam supplies the notes, which are always informative and entertaining. It’s been more than a decade since London Baroque began its European trio sonata recording odyssey for BIS, with by and large great success (reviews of two of the other recordings in this series are available in the archives). And here is another wonderful installment, warmly recommended. Classics