Jb, J Pla

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Meridian
WORKS: Flute Trios, Dolcet lll: 2a, 3, 6, 16 & 17; El concierto favorito, Dolcet IV:1
PERFORMER: Musicians of the Old Post Road, La Fontegara, etc
The brothers Juan Bautista and José Pla were itinerant oboe virtuosi of the mid-18th century, renowned for their playing throughout Continental Europe – and in London, where they had several of their compositions published. Though long forgotten save in their native Catalonia (Roberto Gerhard edited at least one Pla trio sonata), this delightful disc deserves to restore them to some celebrity. Both Plas composed: the tendency has been to assign most of the music to Juan (as on the 1995 Sony CD which is the only alternative I know for some of these pieces). But since they performed as a duo the presumption is that they often collaborated, giving themselves the treble roles, with plenty of opportunities for interaction and rivalry. The lively rhythmic invention, the swooning chromaticisms, the formal inventiveness are very seductive; the music spans a stylistic gamut from an elegant and sophisticated full galant idiom to an earthy and even ‘folky’ Spanish one with evocations of flamenco and guitar-strumming; the scale ranges from the pithy, epigrammatic E minor Sonata to the relatively expansive forms of the Favourite Concerto. The Boston-based Musicians of the Old Post Road and the Mexican trio La Fontegara (all kitted out in Mafia-type shades to emphasise that the Plas are ‘ Galant with an Attitude’) collaborate in scintillating performances of sentiment and sparkle, beautifully recorded. Calum MacDonald