Boëly: Trio in C, Op. 5 No. 2; Trois Mélodies for cello; String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 27; Movement for String Quartet in E; Sextet in D (arr. after Symphony by composer)

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COMPOSERS: Boëly
LABELS: Laborie Records
WORKS: Trio in C, Op. 5 No. 2; Trois Mélodies for cello; String Quartet No. 1 in A minor, Op. 27; Movement for String Quartet in E; Sextet in D (arr. after Symphony by composer)
PERFORMER: Christophe Coin (piano), Eric Lebrun (organ); Quatuor Mosaïques, Ensemble Baroque de Limoges
CATALOGUE NO: LC 05

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What a fascinating figure Alexandre Pierre François Boëly was. Born in 1785, as a composer he was for the most part self-educated and his admiration for the German Classical canon, in particular Beethoven, set him apart from French contemporaries; he also anticipated later developments by championing the organ music of JS Bach.

This generously-filled CD of chamber music (cello and organ solos, trio, quartet and a sextet arrangement of one of his symphonies) provides a fair conspectus of Boëly’s attractive musical personality. 

His musical accent owes much to the Germans he admired; at times, particularly in the scherzo movements, we might almost be listening to a relaxed Beethoven. But there is also a deal of individuality, not least in his adventurous approach to modulation and the muscular vigour of his development sections, notably in the first movement of the symphonic arrangement, even if on occasion he favours a rather routine approach to melodic accompaniment.

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The performances here, on period instruments, are uniformly excellent and very well recorded. The players impart a genuine sense of advocacy as well as discovery. My only real complaint is the lack of accompanying material about this little known, but eminently rewarding, composer. Jan Smaczny