BAR-OCT, 12 Baroque Masterpieces for Piccolo (Debora Rosti)
Bodinus, Boismortier, Braun, Blavet, Delusse, Mahut, Pepusch, Quantz: Bar-Oct, 12 pieces for piccolo from baroque repertoire
(Arr. by Debora Rosti) DV 20089 36 Pages
Shipment cost not included
(bap. Besançon, 13 March 1700; d Paris, 28 Oct 1768). French flautist and composer. The son of Jean-Baptiste Blavet, a turner, and Oudette Lyard, he taught himself several instruments, becoming accomplished on the bassoon and flute. He married Anne-Marguerite Ligier in 1718; the couple’s long and happy marriage resulted in two daughters and two sons, both of whom became priests and one of whom, Jean-Louis, was the author of five books and a number of translations.
In 1723 Blavet moved to Paris in the entourage of Duke Charles-Eugène Lévis. Three years later he made his début at the Concert Spirituel, launching a remarkable public career. During the next quarter of a century Blavet appeared at the Concert Spirituel more frequently than any other performer, and throughout the period musicians and writers were unanimous in stating that his singing tone, pure intonation and brilliant technique set the standard in flute playing for all of Europe. On 1 October 1728 Louis XV granted to Blavet, ‘musicien ordinaire de notre très cher cousin le prince de Carignan’, a privilège général for six years to publish ‘plusieurs sonates pour la flûte traversière’, and op.1 was issued immediately, dedicated to Carignan. By 1731 Blavet had transferred his allegiance to the Count of Clermont, with whom he maintained ties for the rest of his life. An invitation to join the Prussian court, issued by Frederick the Great while still crown prince, was declined. When he added to his other duties the posts of first flute in the Musique du Roi (c1736), in the Musique de la Reine (1738) and at the Opéra (1740), Blavet’s position in Parisian musical life was unrivalled. Among those who wrote with admiration of him were Telemann, Marpurg, Quantz, Hubert Le Blanc, Serré de Rieux, Ancelet, La Borde, Daquin and Voltaire. It is likely that many of Leclair’s nine flute sonatas and his flute concerto were written for Blavet, for the two often performed together.
Blavet’s sonatas, among the masterpieces of the early flute repertory, represent the successful transfer to the flute of the goûts réunis of French violin sonata style, developed by Anet, Duval, Senaillé, Leclair and others. The sonatas of op.2 show the influences of the French suite and the Corellian sonata da camera, and those of op.3 exhibit a more modern, galant style. Only one of Blavet’s flute concertos survives: it has brilliant Vivaldian outer movements flanking a pair of French gavottes serving as a slow movement.
Blavet’s four stage works were written for the private theatre of the Count of Clermont’s château at Berny; Le jaloux corrigé was also given six performances at the Paris Opéra on a double bill with Rousseau’s Le devin du village. The music of the overture, arias and an accompanied recitative of this pasticcio was taken from popular Italian intermezzos; Blavet provided the secco recitatives and the divertissement (six dances and a vaudeville). His innovation was to abandon for the first time the arioso recitative that the French had used since Lully. ‘The recitative of this French intermezzo’, reported the Mercure de France, ‘is approximately in the style of Italian recitative, at least to the extent that the differences between the languages permitted it; and in spite of the almost universal bias of our nation against the Italian recitative, it did not appear that the spectators were extremely shocked by this first attempt’. The Mercure politely neglected to mention that the audience hissed. Whatever the initial reception (Blavet’s divertissement continued to be performed at the Opéra after the rest of the intermezzo had been dropped), Le jaloux corrigé and Le devin du village helped launch a new era of italianate music at the Opéra, and with it the Querelle des Bouffons. Le jaloux corrigé was also performed at Mannheim in 1754.
Blavet’s interest in teaching was reflected in his op.2, in which he meticulously marked correct breathing places, and in his three Recueils de pièces, which contain pieces in all styles and at all levels of difficulty, many arranged for two flutes in a manner suitable for student and teacher to play together. Blavet’s most brilliant flute pupils were the composer and publisher Pierre-Evard Taillart and the teacher and composer Félix Rault, who succeeded Blavet at court, the Opéra and the Concert Spirituel.