Un Viaje Musical por la Europa de las Luces
Trios and Quartets by F. Devienne, J.C.F. Bach, T. Giordani and J.F. Tapray.
François Devienne (1759 – 1803) wrote the Sonata en Quatour pour Le Clavecin ou Le Pianoforte avec Accompagnment de Flûte, Cor et Alto Obliges (Il y a une partie de violincelle pour remplacer le cor)… in Paris in 1789 whilst presenting his services as a Bassoonist to Cardinal de Rohan in the Théâtre de Monsieur. The work of this Frenchman, whose opera “Les Vistandines” would be performed more than two hundred times between 1792 and 1797, has marked an important milestone in the repertoire of the flute. The appeal of his work comes from the great variety of textures used; vigorous tones which give his style of harmony a typically exclusive Frenchness; moments of tranquillity and an elegiac atmosphere in which his accompaniment is always impeccably diversified, sometimes light and at other times sophisticated and brilliant. The virtuosity of these pieces is a constant dialogue among the instruments, creating for each musician all kinds of expressive passages, bold yet carefully shared.
The music of Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach (1732-1795), the second youngest son of Johann Sebastian Bach, symbolizes the bridge between two eras. His production includes almost all kinds of instrumental forms and vocals, from chamber music to symphony with oratorio and motete in between. It originates from the Baroque tradition inherited from his family but later embraces the style of the Italian current, promoted especially in the residence of Count Wilhelm de Schaumburg-Lippe at Bückeburg. Later he was imbued with the empfindsamkeit (sensitivity) of his elder brother Carl Philipp Emmanuel and finally, after a visit to London in 1778, his music follows the trend set by his younger brother Johann Christian and the maestros of that moment, Haydn and Mozart. This Triosanata in E minor is preserved in parts of manuscripts held in the Staatsbibliothek Pruessischer Kulturbesitz in Berlin. The title of the first page has the following inscription: “Sonata/per il/Flauto Traverso/Viola é/Basso/di Bach (followed by an incipit of the first four bars in the flute part of the beginning of the first movement)/pour/L.M.” Someone else has written “Em” before Bach and, in pencil, “nicht bei Wotquenne” has been added. The manuscript paper for the parts of the Flauto Traverso and the Viola has the watermark of a heraldic lily on one half and the initials “SHC” on the other. The initials correspond to Simon Heinreich Clasing, a master papermaker who worked in the Arensburg factory between 1742 and 1763. Many examples of this same paper from the court of Bückeburg demonstrate its use from the beginning of the 17th Century onwards. The watermarks on the parts of the Flauto Traverso and the Viola are identical to the autograph of JCF Bach from the Oratorio “Die Auferweckung des Lazarus (1773)” preserved in the same institution as this Triosonata. The simple reference to “Bach” as the composer can only refer to a member of his family working for the court of Bückeburg during the second half of the 18th Century; any other composer would have been identified by their whole name.
The first and third movements of this sonata owe an unmistakable tribute of gratitude to the chamber works of CPE Bach. In fact, the theme of the first movement can be found in a similar form in the movement which opens the triosonata in G major for flute and violin, continuing on in Wq. 150; and the theme of the final movement appears in the second movement of another trio for the same formation also in G Major, Wq. 144.
Tommaso Giordani was born in Naples in 1730. He was the son of an Italian businessman, singer and librettist and spent the early years of his life travelling all around Europe with his family (the founding members of a small opera company), arriving in England, probably, in 1753. There his family performed at Covent Garden where, on 12 January 1756, Tommaso’s first opera made its debut. The family then moved to Dublin but Tommaso returned to London where he established himself as a composer of opera, oratorios and instrumental chamber music. Written in the Galant Style then in vogue, his music became immensely popular with the public. Giordani spent his final years in Dublin where he eventually died at the end of February 1806.
The collection “Three Sonatas for the Pianoforte or Harpsichord with obligato accompaniments for the Flute or Violin and Viola de Gamba or Tenor composed and most humbly dedicated to the Right Honourable Lady Viscountess Althorp by Tommaso Giordani Op XXX” was published in London in 1782.
Practically all the work of Jean-François Tapray (1738 – 1798) is for the forte-piano and harpsichord, covering the transition period from one to another. He, like most of his contemporaries in Paris, made no significant distinction in style between the two instruments and it is, therefore, pointless to compare his sonatas for the harpsichord with those that include “forte-piano” in their title. The keyboard is usually an accompanying part and almost always introduces the theme, not allowing a significant division of the music by categories. The almost impromptu material of charming melodic ideas on top of figurative but minimally developed accompaniments and the use of simple modulations was very much appreciated in France but found little favour in Germany, especially after the appearance of the latest works by Mozart. Tapray, perhaps recognising the need to create interest in the harmonic aspect and in the monotony of the bass, uses unusual timbres in many of his works (the “peau de buffle” effect in op.21; harpsichord, violin and forte-piano as soloists in op.9; clarinet or flute in place of the usual violin and the bassoon in place of the cello in op.18-20).
Ana López Suero