Diapason d'or -
Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
In 18th Century France, a number of new composers developed "pure music" in a broader sense, and not just music for human voice, with religious works on the one hand and lyrical works on the other. These new works were first and foremost intended for great enthusiasts, in particular for salon harpsichord players. Hence the title "pieces for harpsichord with violin accompaniment", because, strictly speaking, one could do away with the violin part, which in any case doesn't represent a virtuoso level of difficulty. The result, of course, is that the harpsichord is not a simple continuo but beautifully written as harpsichord music, much closer to a virtuoso piece - but an amateur harpsichordist of middling ability will always be able to manage, where as an amateur violinist of an equivalent level would only be able to produce the most frightful screeches from their instrument! All the composers here were born between 1705 and 1720, and died between 1770 and 1799 – some long after Mozart.
When in 1740 he published his Pièces de clavecin en sonates avec accompagnement de violon, Mondonville was a forerunner – even Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concert dates from the following year, even though Rameau was Mondonville's senior by some years. In 1742, Corrette followed suit with his own Sonates pour le clavecin avec accompagnement de violon; the following year, Clément would publish his Sonates en trio pour un clavecin et un violon – the violin part is clearly more developed here than it was in his predecessors' works. In 1745, Guillemain raised the bar a fair way with Pièces de clavecin avec accompagnement de violon in which the violin, in a rather Italian style, became indispensable and is far from being a mere accompaniment (an editor's ploy to make the score more attractive to amateurs?) while the harpsichord part becomes almost virtuoso.
In 1747, it was Marchand's turn with his Pièces de clavecin avec accompagnement de violon, hautbois, violoncelle ou viole : the composer is leaving no stone unturned! In 1748, Balbastre stepped up to the chamber music plate, and the fashion was solidly anchored. The last name on our list is Duphly, whose Troisième livre de clavecin offered the option of adding a violin part, probably aimed at amateurs of a wide range of abilities. Harpsichordist Philippe Grisvard is no stranger to the Poème Harmonique, the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, the Nouveaux Caractères and a long list of other great baroque and classical ensembles from across the globe; while violinist Johannes Pramsohler founded the Diderot Ensemble in 2008, and exercises his talents as the solo violinist of the King’s Consort, the Concert d’Astrée and the baroque ensemble Concerto Melante which came from d'Astrée. © SM/Qobuz