- L'art de la modulation, quartets (6) for oboe/flute, 2 violins & basso continuo
François André Philidor, better known as history's first great chess master (he pioneered such stunts as playing simultaneous blindfold exhibitions), was also a composer of some note associated with the French court in the middle of the 18th century. These six quartets for flute or oboe, two violins, and continuo are closely modeled on Telemann's quartets of the late 1730s, progressive works that drove the listener's attention away from the harmonic progression indicated by the continuo and toward the dynamic interplay among the individual instruments. Philidor's works have the same light tone, and they're played quite well by the Camerata Köln, a group that has specialized in the chamber music of the period. The easy liveliness of Telemann's works is missing for the most part, replaced by the tendency toward harmonic surprise indicated by the "art of modulation" title of the set. There is absolutely nothing unpleasant to listen to about this music, which fulfills the occasional purpose as well today as it did two and a half centuries ago. Listened to closely, the unvarying sequence of binary movements begins to repeat itself; by this time, the stylistic cutting edge was in Vienna, not Paris or northern Germany. For general listeners the album is pleasant, but its real appeal is to those interested in the French court and the period in general.