A L L M U S I C
08 november 2019
This release of a set of trio sonatas by the Belgian composer Henri-Jacques de Croes is seemingly aimed at specialists and enthusiasts of music of the 18th century, with lots of period graphics and detailed booklet notes about the composer's career (not without interest: one of his patrons was a multinational corporation, not a nobleman). "La sonata egarée" means "the lost sonata," and the set of trio sonatas here, composed in the early 1760s, was indeed lost, until a copy of its first publication was discovered at the University of Virginia. But technical matters aside, this music will be enjoyed even by those with no background in the music of the middle 18th century at all. Apparently, de Croes also wrote 24 symphonies, and on the evidence here, the loss of those is a tragedy. These trio sonatas are fine specimens of the galant style, with bubbly flute melodies and fetchingly melancholy turns to the minor key. A few are in four movements, harking back to the Corellian trio sonata, but for the most part they are quite contemporary and hold their own with other chamber music of the period, which is surprising given Brussels' peripheral status in the musical world of the time. They are full of imaginative details. Sample the first movement of the Sonata III, which acts like it is going to become a fugue but never quite does, as if to say don't worry, we're not going to do anything too scholastic. The music alternates between wit and lyricism in the best galant tradition; if asked to guess the composer you might easily come up with J.C. Bach, the "London Bach." The period chamber ensemble BarrocoTout gets the frequent subtlety of the music, and another attraction is Linn's sound from the UK's National Centre for Early Music: the ambience really sounds like a small music room in a house, as was intended. Highly recommended.