The first instrumental compositions published by Joseph Bodin de Boismortier — whose posthumous reputation was built around his having been the first French composer to take up Italian concerto form — were sonatas for two transverse flutes without bass. In the course of his career, Boismortier composed eight sets of sonatas for two unaccompanied flutes that document not only his development as a composer, but also the early evolution of the genre itself.
The Six Sonates pour II Flutes traversieres Sans Baße Op. 47 (1733) represent Boismortier’s last surviving set of such works. Ostensibly in the ‘Italian style, they abandon the dance-heavy format of the earlier ‘French’ sonatas. They also reflect the influence of Telemann’s Sonates sans Basse à deux Flutes traveres [sic.], particularly as regards their structure; the second of their four movements is always a fugue.
Apart from being set in tonalities that are comfortable for the baroque flute, these virtually unknown duets are expertly written for the one-keyed instrument, and richly rewarding to perform. They provide yet further confirmation that there is still much of value to be rediscovered amongst Boismortier’s largely neglected oeuvre.