This collection of ten sonatas is a somewhat frustrating affair ranging from distinguished accomplishments (David Pohle’s likely entry is well balanced compositionally, has a vast array of colour—Dominic Teresi aptly demonstrateshis sensitive mastery of the dulcian—and features an “Invitation to the Dance” that no one could resist; the return of trombonist Greg Ingles to the jolly writing found in Sonata 8 was far more successful than Bertali’s Sonata 4 (far from unanimous length-of-note issues spoils the overall effect), where the launch of the last hurrah lifted everyone’s spirits and concluded the shortest work of the lot with engaging zest.
On the other side of the ledger, much of the music suffered from too large a helping of “good-enough” togetherness rather than exemplary precision (despite Webb Wiggins discreet and thoughtful accompaniment, the protagonists of Schmelzer’s Sonata 4 got by with rough-and-ready passagework and sadder than necessary excursions into the minor mode. Scott Pauley’s guitar interventions—notably the slow section of Sonata 3—are always welcome. The quicker sections of that work were dragged down by a lack of consistent lift and rhythmic surety, yet all was forgiven by the beautiful rendering of the closing measures.
Schmelzer’s closing Sonata 7 began with a totally convincing mood of mystery as the voices joined into the weave of counterpoint. Once launched, the “Allegro’s” busy motif became the basis for much of the work. Again, the violinists—Julie Andrijeski (whose program notes were most informative) and Chris Verrette—couldn’t match each other but did exemplary work when presenting their solo lines after the organ had effectively doused some of the early flames. The final minute was a marvellously crafted triple-meter dance that left the ear and the soul wishing that that degree of oneness could have been the standard for the entire disc. JWR