TWENTY FOUR SOLOS BY JEAN-DANIEL BRAUN (2011)
Braun died in Paris on 24 February 1738. A final volume of his works containing a Sonata for Flute with Basso Continuo and these twenty four short pieces for flute alone was published posthumously in 1740.
David A. Wells - California State University, Sacramento
The details of Jean-Daniel Braun’s early life are unknown. He is thought to have been born in Alsace, probably in the late seventeenth century. The region had been part of France since the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), but culturally it remained strongly German. The earliest mention of Braun as a musician occurs in the autobiography of Johann Joachim Quantz, the renowned flute pedagogue. Quantz embarked on a three-year tour of Europe in the mid-1720s. He visited Paris from August 1726 to March 1727, and in his autobiography he lists a number of the most prominent Parisian musicians he met during his stay. Among the flutists he encountered were "die beyden Brüder Braun" (the two Braun brothers).
Although Quantz’s identification is a bit ambiguous, it is certain that Jean-Daniel Braun was active as a flutist, composer, and music publisher in Paris in the late 1720s. On 19 March 1728, Braun obtained a royal privilege to print “plusieurs sonates et autres pièces instrumentales de sa composition” (several sonatas and other instrumental pieces of his composition). The privilege, which was registered on 2 April 1728, provided Braun protection for a period of ten years and identified him as “Musicien ordinaire de la musique de notre très cher Cousin le Duc d’Épernon” (regular musician for my [Louis XV’s] very dear cousin, the Duke of Epernon). At the time, Braun lived on rue Mazarine at the petit hôtel d’Angleterre. The first volume that Braun produced under this privilege was a set of Sonatas for Flute with Basso Continuo, issued in 1728. Over the following decade, Braun published ten more volumes of his own compositions. Most of these works are sonatas for one or two flutes with varying accompaniment. Notable exceptions are a set of suites for two musettes and a set of six sonatas for two bassoons. Braun also published a handful of works by other composers, including Flute Sonatas by Quantz, George Frideric Handel, and Giovanni Battista Ferrandini.
Braun died in Paris on 24 February 1738. A final volume of his works containing a Sonata for Flute with Basso Continuo and these twenty four short pieces for flute alone was published posthumously in 1740. Another Mr. Braun is listed among its publishers, and is identified as “Ordinaire de l’Académie Royale de Musique”. In all likelihood this is Jean-Daniel’s brother and fellow flutist, Jean-Frédéric Braun.
The volume’s title page describes these works as being "composées exprès pour former l’embouchure et accoutumer la main aux difficultés, tant du même auteur que de divers autres" (c omposed specially to form the embouchure and get the hand used to the difficulties, from the same author as well as others). The description continues: "Ces mêmes Pièces peuvent se jouer également sur le Basson en suivant la Clef de Basse mise au commencement de chaque air (These pieces can also be played on the bassoon by following the bass clef at the beginning of each air). Indeed, most of the pieces are furnished with both bass and treble clefs, each with the proper key signature. For example: the first Rondeau, Giga and Minuetto (tracks 1-3) are in G Major when played on the flute, and reading the same printed notes in bass clef puts them in B-flat Major.
Solos 4-7 (Rondeau, Minuetto I & II, Scherzo I & II and Minuetto) bear the instruction that the player should transpose them if playing them on the bassoon rather than substituting the bass clef. These are transposed to C in modern editions and on this recording.
Braun’s pieces contain multiple effects that give the impression of two separate parts occurring at once, e.g. repeating pedal tones underlying an evolving harmony or two voices represented in wide leaps. Literal examples of this intent are particularly evident than in the Concerto and first Inventione (tracks 11-12); passages of actual divisi writing give the performer the implicit freedom to make interpretive decisions.
There has been some question regarding the authorship of some of the pieces in this collection. Eight of them (tracks 8, 10, 13, 14, 19, 20, 23, and 24) also appear in an undated eighteenth-century manuscript of works attributed to Quantz, held by the Royal Library in Copenhagen.
Quantz is known to have collected works from various sources for pedagogical use. On the other hand, it is possible that Braun copied pieces by Quantz for his own use, and Jean-Frédéric Braun later assumed that he had actually composed them. At this remove, it is impossible to establish authorship definitively.
Though Jean-Daniel Braun wrote these pieces as technical exercises for the flute, they are clearly effective as short recital works for the bassoon. As far as I can tell, the whole set of twenty-four has never before been recorded on any instrument. Nadina’s recording brings welcome attention to the works of an otherwise largely neglected composer.
Minuetto I & II
Schezo I & II (presto)
Largo - Double - Largo