CD Review: The chamber music of Alexandre Boëly elegantly brought to life by Quatuor Mosaïques
Boëly, Musique de chambre (Laborie)
*** (out of 4)
If you love the chamber music of Haydn and Beethoven, this album is worth hunting down (you can get a bit more info by clicking on the image).
Being born in Versailles to a court singer and teacher would normally be a great start for any future musician. Except that Alexandre Pierre François Boëly was born in 1785 and King Louis XVI had his head cut off in 1793.
Boëly grew up to be an organist-composer-violist at a time when, slogans of liberty and fraternity aside, the state had become the official religion.
Boëly was deeply conservative, championing the likes of J.S. Bach and Frescobaldi. Worse yet, Hector Berlioz was born in 1803. So, guess who died nearly penniless and overlooked in 1858?
Organists continue to play Boëly's nicely crafted compositions. But he wrote a lot of chamber music, too. An all-French effort led by Quatuor Mosaïques has gathered up some highlights on a new disc.
(The album comes with minimal printed notes -- in French, only. You can download a pdf of comprehensive background information here, but it, too, is in French only.)
Two of three substantial pieces on this generous disc were composed in 1827, the String Quartet No. 1, in A minor, and a D Major Sextet. The third is a String Trio from 1808. These works are separated by each of three recently found Mélodies for cello and swell organ ("orgue expressif"), played by Olivier Latry.
The larger works sound a lot like late Haydn or early Beethoven, with carefully laid-out themes and counterpoints. There is a lot to listen to here, and the various musicians involved in the recording have done a polished job.
To give you a taste of Boëly's style, here is young Polish-born, French-based organist Maria Magdalena Kaczor playing a Fantasy and Fugue in B-flat Major at the church of Saint-Louis en l'Ile in Paris: