Classical Editor: Rob Barnett

Music Webmaster
Len Mullenger:


Trios Sonatas (7)
Barcelona Consort.
la mà de guido LMG 2036 (DDD)  [72 .25]
This disc can be purchased from the importer:
Silver Service CDs, 14 Balmoral Avenue, Shepshed, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE12 9PX
Tel +44(0) 1509 829301  Fax +44(0) 1509 829302

I wish that I could summons some enthusiasm for this disc of seven trio sonatas by two Spanish brothers of the 18th century.

I feel that this music has limited appeal. One feels, not knowing much about the Pla brothers that one has heard this music before. It is so much like other early composers. For those who like delicate, pastel, unadventurous elegant music, which this is, you may love this disc. But 72 minutes of charming music which is rather dull was difficult to endure.

It has to be said that the performers are magnificent. There are various flutes and a oboe used with the continuo of a viola da gamba and a keyboard.

But the music has no get up and go. Nothing happens. Rather like a Jane Austen novel even though it may have charm and remind us of good manners.

This disc also reminds us of the many problems of early music.

Incidentally, Joan Pla is a man.. if you had not gathered that already.

There seems to be no indication of which brother wrote which sonata or whether all of them were equally joint efforts. The sleeve note tells us that early copies were unscrupulously changed and varied and so we do not know who wrote what and whether what we have is original.

What my students find so irritating about this type of music is that they are called Trio Sonata and yet they all employ four instruments. Of course it was the custom of the time that a low string instrument copy the bass line of the continuo on the keyboard. Students also find that examining bodies are so keen to deal with figured basses and yet will not have within their examinations other disciplines such as serialism. The most annoying feature of early music is another shorthand, that of ornaments Wouldn't life be easier if the composers wrote them out in full and so we did not have all this unnecessary academic nonsense about authenticity.

As I have said these works are exquisitely played and may well be important in the history of early music particularly as regards Spain. The very gentleness of the music seems to belie the red-bloodedness of the delightful people we associate with this country.

But the works do have merit. No less a great composer than Roberto Gerhard was vastly interested in them and enthused them about to me in Oxford once. And I don't think that was exclusively due to his Spanish origins either.

David Wright



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