The name Jean-Pierre Baur is undoubtedly an unfamiliar one today, and more than 200 years after his lifetime this French musician remains somewhat of a mystery. Born in Bouzonville in 1719, he ultimately settled in Paris, where he became known as a composer and harpist, the first in a family of harpists. Baur’s output was almost entirely devoted to small pieces for harp and a certain amount of chamber music, including sonatas for violin, harp, harpsichord and flute, many of which are featured on this attractive Passacaille label recording performed by members of the Baroque ensemble Accademia de’ Dissonanti (ADD) under the direction of cellist Elinor Frey.
The cello sonatas featured here are taken from Baur’s first two collections Op.1 and Op.2 published in 1751 and 1756. These are amiable works comprising alternating slow/fast movements with the fine tone produced by cellist Octavie Dostaler-Lalonde complementing the thoughtful partnership provided by keyboardist Mélisande McNabney.
Baur’s move to Paris around 1745 preceded a significant rise in popularity of the harp in France, one which lasted into the 19th century. The two harp sonatas here, Op.7 Nos. 3 and 6, are all grace and delicacy with harpist Antoine Mallette-Chénier delivering a sensitive performance, always finely nuanced.
As is the case of much Baroque chamber music, many of Baur’s compositions were conceived to be performed by various combinations of instruments and this is the case with the Sonata for Two Violins No.1, played here on two small cellos by Dostaler-Lalonde and Frey.
Kudos to Frey and the ADD for uncovering this hitherto unfamiliar repertoire – attractive packaging and excellent notes further enhance this recording of music deserving greater recognition.