Two Sonatas from Set 2: Nos 7 & 8
From the Publisher
Simon Balicourt (1706–1757), during a London career that lasted from 1735 (the year he arrived from the Continent) until his death, was a leading flautist and flute composer. He left two sets of flute sonatas, published in 1750 and 1760 respectively, each containing eight beautifully polished and musically imaginative works that draw equally on his German background and on the French-influenced tradition of flute-playing in his adoptive country. Suitable for both educational use and concert performance, these pieces – now appearing for the first time in a modern critical edition – deserve a place at the forefront of the late baroque repertory for transverse flute.
Sonata 7 in D major opens with a sunny Andante that nevertheless includes a poignant moment near the end. The subsequent, technically challenging, Allegro moderato bounces along airily, throwing out scales, arpeggios and wide leaps with equal abandon. The concluding Allegro – a feast of syncopation – is an object lesson in how to compose a coherent movement based on a single idea without the result sounding remotely monotonous.
Sonata 8, also in D major, is the only three-movement work in the set with a Fast–Slow–Fast arrangement. Its opening Allegro is especially well developed formally, coming close to mature Classical sonata style. For the Adagio in B minor, Balicourt takes a chromatic idea heard earlier in the first movement and works it intensively and poignantly: this truly is the ‘jewel’ of the set’s slow movements. The Moderato finale is enlivened by a number of interesting modulations and harmonic twists as well as some attractive moments of animation in the bass.