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Joseph Bodin de Boismortier

Six sonatas

Op. 71

Two violins

edited by Michael Elphinstone

Leaflet Music example Sonata 1 (pdf)
Leaflet Music example Sonata 2 (pdf)
Leaflet Music example Sonata 3 (pdf)
Leaflet Music example Sonata 4 (pdf)
Leaflet Music example Sonata 5 (pdf)
Leaflet Music example Sonata 6 (pdf)

Boismortier’s Six Sonates a deux violons Op. 71 were published in 1738, but it can be assumed that few copies were printed; all recent catalogues of Boismortier’s compositions describe Op. 71 as being ‘lost’. In actual fact, at least one copy has survived; it was deposited at the Bibliothèque municipale de Lyon in 1981, some 243 years after its publication, even though its location has evidently remained unknown to scholars until now.

The full title of Op. 71 — Six Sonates à deux violons, dont les trois premières sont simples, et les trois suivantes mêlées d’accordo [sic] — hints at the didactic nature of the work. The first three sonatas are relatively undemanding technically, while the following three make ample use of double and multiple stopping, a style of writing influenced by Leclair’s Op. 3 (1730) and already adopted by Boismortier in his VI Sonates pour un flute traversiere, et un violon par accords, Op. 51 (1734). In spite of their debt to Leclair, the Op. 71 sonatas are typically ‘Boismortierian’ in terms of their structure and melodic/harmonic language. Movements characteristic of the sonata da chiesa (three of which are skilfully-written fugues) are integrated with popular dance forms that surely resonated with amateur musicians (and their audiences) of the day.

The reappearance of these sonatas is a notable event, not only for researchers of Boismortier’s music, but also for those interested in the early eighteenth-century repertory for two solo violins. It raises hopes that further sets of ‘lost’ works by Boismortier (at least 30 are still unaccounted for) will eventually come to light.

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Six sonatas, Op. 71
hh603.fsp  · ISMN 979 0 708213 18 5 · ISBN 978 1 914137 64 8
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