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Opus 1
Jean-François DANDRIEU (1682-1738)
Sonatas, Op.1 (1705)
Sonate en Sol Mineur (sonata in g minor), Op.1/3 [7:20]
Sonate en La Majeur (in A), Op.1/4 [5:29]
Deuxième livre de pièces de clavecin : La Corelli (transcribed Justin Taylor) [2:52]
Arcangelo CORELLI (1653-1713)
Sonate en Do Majeur (in C), Op.4/1 [6:26]
Jean-François DANDRIEU
Sonate en Fa Majeur (in F), Op.1/5 [5:33]
Sonate en Ré Mineur (in d minor), Op.1/1 [6:43]
Sonate en Ré Mineur (in d minor), Op.1/2 [6:10]
Arcangelo CORELLI
Sonate en Si Mineur (in b minor), Op.2/8 [8:58]
Jean-François DANDRIEU
Sonate en Mi Mineur (in e minor), Op.1/6 [8:46]
Arcangelo CORELLI
Sonate en Sol Majeur (in G), Op.2/12: Ciacona largo – Allegro [3:05]
Le Consort/Justin Taylor (harpsichord and organ)
rec. 2018, Maladrerie Saint-Lazare, Beauvais, France
ALPHA CLASSICS 542 [61:43]

Dandrieu’s organ music is pretty well known, especially his Noëls, several recordings of which have come my way: on Puer nobis nascitur, Ton Koopman, includes some, with those of other composers (Challenge Classics CC72234 – review). There’s even a collection devoted wholly to Daquin’s Christmas music (Pavane ADW7405, released 1998). Not having heard the Pavane, I enjoyed dipping into it, even on a hot summer’s day; Greta de Reyghere (soprano) sings the original Noëls, while Pascale Rouet elaborates on the organ.

Three recordings of Dandrieu’s organ masses, made for the Pierre Vernay label by Jean-Patrice Brosse, with the Chœur grégorien de Paris, survive as downloads and can be streamed from Qobuz: Mass and Vespers for Easter Sunday, Vespers of the Assumption with Le vœu de Louis XIII, and Mass and Vespers in the Age of Enlightenment.

I don’t, however, recall ever hearing any of these Opus 1 Sonatas, which give their name to the new Alpha recording; there don’t seem to be any other recordings of them. The music shares the easy appeal of the organ music, in the sonata format derived from Corelli. The debt is acknowledged in Dandrieu’s La Corelli, one of a number of keyboard musical portraits, performed here in a trio sonata realisation by Justin Taylor, leader of Le Consort.

I enjoyed the performances of these sonatas.  It’s significant that these were the first pieces that he chose to publish, well in advance of François Couperin’s harmonisation of the French and Italian styles in Les goûts réunis.  It must be admitted, however, that the three interspersed works of Corelli outshine them, not least in terms of variety. The adagio of Corelli’s Op.4/1 sounds uncannily like Purcell’s Fairy Queen – the raising of the cold spirit – and Vivaldi’s Winter from The Four Seasons. I imagine that the similarity is coincidental, but it’s movements like this which make Corelli’s music so appealing.

Corelli’s Op.6 concerti grossi are well known and have been much recorded, but his sonatas were just as influential and I can well imagine the performances of the three here leading listeners to explore further, in which case the Op.5 sonatas will not duplicate anything on the new Alpha recording and there are several fine recordings to choose from: Pavlo Beznosiuk and the Avison Ensemble (Linn CKD412 – review) or Andrew Manze and Richard Egarr (Harmonia Mundi HMU907298/99, download only) the picks of the bunch.

The Linn 2-SACD recording of Op.2 and Op.4 has just been reissued as CKR413, for around £20 – review of original release as Recording of the Month. Listening again to the three sonatas on that recording which also feature on the new Alpha CD, I found myself enjoying them rather more than from Le Consort. There isn’t a great deal in it, however. In any case, the Corelli sonatas on Alpha are best regarded as a bonus, leaving the way open to add either the Linn or the budget-price Chandos 4-CD recording of the complete Op.1 to Op.5 sonatas from Jakob Lindberg and the Purcell Quartet (CHAN0692, download only, £19.99 in lossless sound, with pdf booklet, from See DL News 2013/2 for this and other Corelli recordings.

Founded as recently as 2015, Le Concert have already recorded Venez chère ombre with Eva Zaïcik for Alpha (ALPHA439). We seem to have missed that collection of solo cantatas by Montéclair, Lefebvre and Clérambault when it was released, so I listened to it courtesy of Naxos Music Library , where you can also find the booklet. It’s all beautifully sung and played, but you may find 66 minutes of solo mezzo singing a little lacking in variety.

Le Consort present convincing accounts of the sonatas on the new album and the recording does them justice. By all means get to know the music of Corelli first – he was the principal begetter of the sonata form – but don’t overlook this unfamiliar aspect of Dandrieu.

The booklet consists of five questions and answers, some of them rather banal, such as ‘Opus is the Latin word for a work, a piece’. Many of the booklets in Alpha’s mid-price reissue series have adopted this format, though I’m pleased to see that the recent reissue of Telemann’s Overture and Concertos for Darmstadt has returned to the original notes, in slightly abridged form (ALPHA499 – review pending). For a full-price first release I very much prefer the kind of detailed notes that we expect from the likes of Hyperion.

Overall, these are convincing accounts of the sonatas of a composer better known for his organ music.

Brian Wilson



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