JOSEPH BODIN DE BOISMORTIER: Sonatas for Harpsichord and Flute Nos. 1 – 6, Op. 91 – Olga Martynova, harpsichord/ Ivan Bushuev, transverse flute – Caro Mitis multichannel SACD CM 0042011, 64:00 [Distr. by Albany] *****:

Boismortier was a French Baroque composer who lived until 1755 and is distinguished for having been one of the first composers to make huge profits from publishing his music for public sale, and having no patrons. A music theorist of the time wrote of him “Happy be Boismortier, who fertile pen can give birth without pain to a new piece of music every month.”  To this, Boismortier would simply reply: “I’m earning money.”  He used the Italian concerto form and wrote many works for both instruments and voice. He dedicated his six sonatas of 1742 to a celebrated French flutist and composer, Michel Blavet, and due to their creative and graceful nature the works have remained among the most popular of Boismortier’s.

The instrument of choice for an agreeable evening with an intimate circle of friends in Paris during this time was the transverse flute. It was known for its delicate sound and it had a ready audience. It was known as the “German flute,” and it gradually replaced its predecessor, the recorder.  Boismortier was fascinated by the flute, and his legacy includes works for from two to even five flutes, and combined with other instruments. Surprisingly, nobody else prior to Boismortier had thought of combining the transverse flute with the harpsichord, though it was a natural. Both instruments were at the very height of Parisian fashion.

Thus the Six Sonatas went over most successfully. Their three-movement structure carries French titles, but corresponds to the Italian system of Allegro/Grazioso/Allegro. Boismortier joked that he put in “melodies like butterflies,” but both instrumental parts have complexities and depth.

—John Sunier