Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004


Peter Walls (University of Wellington, New Zealand)

More on saying ‘Sonata’ with a French accent

My article ‘“Sonade, que me veux tu?”: reconstructing French identity in the wake of Corelli Op. 5’ (Early Music 2004) traced the emergence of an identifiably French violin sonata style This paper follows on from that in isolating a strand in French violin sonata collections without any parallel in Italian writing that may be regarded as a distinctive seam of continuity running through French instrumental writing from the earliest years of the 18th-century to the assured sonata publications of the 1730s.

Some of the earliest French violin sonata collections include works with a an obbligato bass viol part. Of these, the most obvious (since the presence of the viola da gamba is signalled on the title page) is Jean-Féry Rebel’s Sonates à violon seul mellées de plusieurs récits pour la Viole(Paris: l’Auteur & Foucaut, 1713), but there are examples in the work of Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, Charles De la Ferté, Joseph Marchand le Fils, Jean-Baptiste Senaillé, and even Michelle Mascitti that predate Rebel’s publication and many more that follow it. The instrumental combination – and sometimes the compositional approach – links this sub-genre to models that have very different imperatives driving them from the fashion for Italian sonatas. In Marin Marais’s La gamme et autres morceaux de simphonie (1723) this strand of sonata writing converges with a uniquely French contribution to the repertory.

Last updated on 10 May 2004