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Mondonville: 6 Sonatas Op. 3 / Minkowski, Les Musiciens De Louvre


Release Date: 05/04/2010 
Label:  Brilliant Classics   Catalog #: 93906   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville
Conductor:  Marc Minkowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Musiciens du Louvre
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews



MONDONVILLE 6 Sonates en symphonies , op. 3 Marc Minkowski, cond; Les Musiciens du Louvre BRILLIANT 93906 (56:42)


This recording was made in 1996, and subsequently released on Archiv 457 600-2. It’s great to see it at a discount, as the musical personality of Mondonville (1711–72) deserves to be better known. The considerable imaginative power of his work derives in part from a debt owed to the contrapuntal teachings of his teacher: his father, who Read more was also the organist of Narbonne’s Maîtrise de St. Just. The intricacy and ease of Mondonville’s counterpoint can be heard throughout these Sonates en symphonies , which began life as works for harpsichord with violin accompaniment. In that form, as published in 1734, they proved extremely popular. The composer’s own orchestration in 1749 remained in manuscript, however, presumably (if I may hazard a guess) because while there was an avid market among middle- and upper-class amateurs for chamber works, orchestras of comparable quality outside of a few courtly establishments were difficult to find. Possibly Mondonville secured performances from his friends, as both Paris and Versailles were blessed with a multitude of wealthy patrons vying for the luster of supporting the best artists.


I would like to hope so, as Mondonville didn’t simply re-orchestrate the work, but arranged it into three active, independent parts: divided violins and continuo. As the bassoon sometimes leaves the latter to function separately, this can on occasion make for music in four parts. His audiences must have been fascinated by the result in these early but highly sophisticated three-movement symphonies, and Mondonville, who was no fan of Italian music, perhaps took keen pleasure in beating Sammartini at his own game.


Not a melodically inventive composer, Mondonville was a past master of exploiting the subtleties of meter and rhythm. The andante gratioso of the Sonate No. 2 places its emphasis on the offbeat, and plays 3/4 time against 6/8, among four independent parts. The various gigues are a series of studies in different aspects of perpetual motion, employing syncopation, varied textures, and rhythmic imitation with ingenuity. Harmonically there are few surprises, but those that appear evince signs of study well spent with Rameau’s scores. The piquant andante gratioso of the Sonate No. 4 could pass for a piece by the latter, while a striking progression in the gigue of the Sonate No. 1 literally moves the home key abruptly from B? Minor to A Major, and back again several bars later. Mondonville always finds the means to keep things interesting.


So do Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre, in a reading as notable for infectious vitality as for precision and clarity. This isn’t one of those mannered performances that would lead you to believe Baroque music is a solemn responsibility, but a matter of taking pleasure in fresh, worthwhile discoveries. Do try it. You won’t be disappointed.


FANFARE: Barry Brenesal
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Works on This Recording

1. Pieces de clavecin en sonates, Op. 3 by Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville
Conductor:  Marc Minkowski
Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Musiciens du Louvre
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1734; France 
Date of Recording: 1996 

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