The first thing to say about these six flute sonatas is that they are not by Vivaldi, nor did they ever have anything to do with the Italian composer. They are instead the work of Nicolas de Chédeville (1705-1782), an oboist and musette player, a student of the great French recorder virtuoso Louis Hotteterre who by the age of 25 had acquired a sufficient name for himself to publish his own compositions. He in turn became an esteemed teacher who worked for the royal households.
In 1737 he made a secret agreement with Jean-Noël Marchand for the latter to obtain a privilege to engrave, print and sell a work as Vivaldi's Il pastor fido, op.13, but in a notarial act dated 17 September 1749 Marchand declared that Chédeville was the composer, also revealing that Chédeville had provided the money for the publication and was receiving the emoluments. It is not certain why Chédeville chose to have his own work attributed to Vivaldi and issued under the privilege of Marchand, but perhaps, as Lescat has suggested, he was trying to give the musette, his favourite instrument, the endorsement of a great composer that it had lacked up until then.
But Chédeville, Vivaldi, whoever: what counts is the dancing vitality and simple, beguiling charm of these sonatas, which are played here by an experienced Italian early-music ensemble, whose previous recordings on Brilliant have met with warm critical response. These include concertos by Fiorenza and Mele (BC93956), Sammartini (BC94157), CPE Bach, Telemann – and even some authentic Vivaldi.
The Baroque recorder sonatas on this CD bear the title “Il pastor fido”, a hugely popular play by Giovanni Guarini, which inspired many composers with its sensuous, pastoral and “romantic” atmosphere. The sonatas were attributed to Antonio Vivaldi (because of the commercial power of his fame) till in 1990 proof was found they have been written by the French composer Nicolas Chédeville, who borrowed material from Vivaldi and other composers, and developed it in the same idiom.
Excellent performances by the Ensemble Pro Musica, elite players from the Italian Early Music scene: Stefano Bagliano (recorder), Andrea Coen (harpsichord and organ).
Extensive liner notes on the history of this exquisite and charming music in English and Italian in the booklet.