World-premiere reocrdings of entertaining, free-spirited chamber music from the golden age of the French Baroque.
We know next to nothing about Jean-Daniel Braun, beyond snippets of memoir and the introduction to his published works. He worked for the Duc d'Épernon; he was known as a virtuoso performer on the transverse flute in Paris during the first half of the 18th century; he composed music for transverse flute, bassoon, recorder, musettes and hurdy-gurdy; his Opus 1 collection of sonatas was published in 1728; and he died before 1740.
This obscurity has led to a lack of interest in the music itself, which deserves modern attention and revival. Step forward Jed Wentz, who has spent his career turning up corners of Baroque repertoire from across Europe, and making acclaimed recordings with his Dutch-based Musica ad Rhenum ensemble.
A comparison of Braun's sonatas with those of his renowned Parisian contemporary Blavet reveals a similarity in general approach, with French and Italian elements mixed together in sonatas sometimes structurally reminiscent of suites. The final movement of Braun's Op. 7 No. 2 (in E Minor) so closely resembles the final movement of Blavet's Op. 2 No. 2 (in D Minor) as to suggest that one must have served as a model for the other.
A highlight of Jed Wentz’s extensive discography for Brilliant Classics is the only available collection of the complete sonatas by Blavet (93003); he is the ideal artist to introduce Braun’s music to a modern audience, and this album is a must-hear sequel to the Blavet which garnered enthusiastic reviews: ‘Jed Wentz is both scholarly and imaginative in these performances… These are living, "breathing" interpretations. The lively music is truly joyful and exciting, and the more introspective music sings in the most stress-easing manner possible… The engineering is detailed and both clear and warm.’ (Classical.net)
More recently, the Musica ad Rhenum recording of sonatas by the industrious Boismortier (95366) also won critical praise: ‘As always [Wentz] delivers compelling and often even exciting performances… really outstanding and compelling.’ (MusicWeb International)
Very little is known about Jean-Daniel Braun (ca 1703-before 1740). He seems to have been a flutist of some renown, and he worked for the Duke d’Épernon. He published several books of Sonatas for the traverse flute and basso continuo, which are recorded completely here.
Although Braun is largely forgotten his works may stand comparison with those of his more illustrious contemporaries, notably with the famous Blavet. Braun’s sonatas equal Blavet in melodic invention and technical mastery, its virtuosity seriously challenging the technical skills of the player in their endless runs (breath!) and sometimes extremely wide leaps. The flute is here a mature solo instrument, capable of both “tendresse” and furious virtuosity.
Jed Wentz, a superb musician as well as an excellent scholar, did extensive research into the performance practice of the French Baroque music, his specialty. His many recordings of this era with music by Blavet, Boismortier and Couperin have received rave reviews in the international press. On this new recording his musical partners are Michael Borgstede (harpsichord, fortepiano) and Job ter Haar (cello).