A flautist known for his extraordinarily beautiful tone, astonishing technique and impeccable intonation, Michel Blavet (1700-1768) was one of the most celebrated flute virtuosos in France at a time when the transverse flute was becoming wildly popular. He also wrote extensively for his instrument and enjoyed the dedication of works for flute by some of the most important composers of his day. Of his own works for flute, what has survived are a concerto (rediscovered in 1954), six sonatas for two flutes, and the Six Sonatas for flute and continuo, Op 2 (1732) on this Maguelone CD performed by Philippe Pierlot.
Blavet was a self taught musician who is reputed to have played many instruments extremely well, but was a consummate player of the bassoon and flute. One curious fact about his flute playing, likely a result of learning the instrument on his own, is that he held his flute to his left side – the opposite of how the instrument is commonly held.
These are without question among the most attractively written, endlessly enjoyable chamber works for flute to come from the period. Elegant ornamentation, seamless mode changes and stylishly echoed phrases flow by with a characteristically French, gallant air. The sample that I have for you to hear is the graceful opening La Boucot and high-spirited Allemanda from the Sonata No. 6. Give them a listen and I think you’ll agree that the performances are all you could ask for, too! A Paris Conservatoire graduate who studied with Jean-Pierre Rampal and is currently principal flute of the Orchestre National de France, Philippe Pierlot is steeped in the milieu of this music. Mr. Pierlot enjoys impeccable support from harpsichordist Richard Siegel and gambist Sylvia Abramowicz. The superb sonics from Maguelone are the cerise sur le gâteau.
The writings of the time of Blavet always speak with admiration. It is considered an outstanding musician, a composer of great talent, playing the perfection of his instrument (and bassoon) with virtuosity and great ease. He is also respected for the purity of his morals, his manners, his integrity, his modesty and unselfishness. It was also noticed by the fact that he willingly played the compositions of others. Francois de Neufchateau wrote: “We did not even suspect the perfection which this instrument was likely and that he was indebted to Mr. Blavet This musician shows knew how to draw all the more enjoyable agreements in his sonatas and concertos, with an execution. clear and rapid, accurate and brilliant, that no one had given the idea. In a word, the sound of the flute became, under his fingers, the perfect imitation of a beautiful voice, and the charm of sensitive ears . “. The works are Blavet, after many musicians and historians, masterpieces, sonatas in which “melodies of incomparable charm encountered”, and it is strange not to hear more often in concert. Recorded on a wooden flute, we discover this album with fresh ears.
Michel Blavet, composer
Michel Blavet (1700 – 1768) was a French composer and flute virtuoso. Although Blavet taught himself to play almost every instrument, he specialized in the bassoon and the flute which he held to the left, the opposite of how most flutists hold theirs today. In 1738, Blavet became the principal flute in both Louis XV’s personal musical ensemble, the “Musique du Roi”, and in 1740 at the Paris Opera orchestra.
Philippe Pierlot, flute
Philippe Pierlot began studying the flute at the age of twelve, as the last student of the eminent professor, Joseph Rampal. Jean-Pierre Rampal and Alain Marion gave him their advice as well, and five years later he was admitted to the Conservatoire Supérieur de Musique de PARIS, where he won two brilliant First Prizes, in Flute and in Chamber Music. Shortly thereafter, he won the Barcelona International Competition.
Sylvia Abramowicz, viola de gamba
This talented and musically sensitive performer, a noted exponent of older instruments, began her study of the flute à bec at the Schola Cantorum in Paris. In 1976, she earned a diploma of excellence in the study of ancient instruments. She then turned her attention toward the viola da gambe and enrolled at the Conservatoire Royal de La Haye to study flute à bec and viole.
Richard Siegel, harpsichord
Richard Siegel finished his musical studies in the United States and then came to France where he won First Prizes for harpischord and chamber music at the Paris Conservatory. In 1977, at the Paris International Harpischord Competition, he was awarded First Prize in Figured Bass Realization. Since then, he has pursued an international career both as soloist and accompanist.