INKPOT#73 CLASSICAL MUSIC REVIEWS: Franois COUPERIN Music for Harpsichord Vols.1 & 2 (Naxos)
Franois COUPERIN (1668-1733) Music for Harpsichord Vol.2
LAURENCE CUMMINGS harpsichord
2 discs [40’36″+54’36”] mid-price
by Chia Han-Leon
Born 17 years before J.S.Bach, Franois Couperin “le grand” is the most important member of the Couperin family.
Born into a family of organists and was an active organist all his llife. Selected by Louis XIV in 1693 as organiste du roi
1717 took up post as the King’s haprsichordist.
Publications Concerts royaux (comprising 4 works) were sold as 2nd part of Troisime livre de pices de clavecin
Admirer of Italian Baroque, in particular Corellli
Most important composer between Lully and Rameau.
Precious little material has survived to help Couperin’s biographers. Apparently he is supposed to have exhanged letters with none other than J.S.Bach, but these are nowhere to be found. Bach evidently was familiar with Couperin’s music, having a copy of Les bergeries (ordre no.6) in the Anna Magdalena notebook, as well as his arrangement of a rondeau from L’imprialse (BWV587)
Even nearer and within the 20th century, many great composers paid their tribute: Brahms (of all people) was involved in the first complete edition of Couperin’s harpsichord music; Richard Strauss arranged some of the pieces in his Dance Suite for small orchestra and his Divertimento. Debussy nearly dedicated his Etudes to Couperin; and then there is Ravel’s Le tombeau de Couperin. In his day,
From Couperin’s style of writing (both word and music), “one may gain an impression of a man untainted by national prejudices, careful in his work, capable of forthrightness, and not lacking in self-esteem.” This engraving (right) by Flipart, after a portrait by Andr Boys, “gives him an air of quiet confidence; his features are solid and composed; in his large eyes one may perhaps catch a trace of that wistfulness which springs from the restrained expressiveness of his music.” (Grove).
Combination of French and Italian styles – Les gots-rnis Incredibly responsive harpsichord, with a bass register so clearly focussed it could have started speaking French (eg. courante of Third Concert, track 13)
Other classical music reviews by this or any other writer can be obtained from the InkVault by doing a key word search with the writer’s name.
4xx: .2.1999 Chia Han-Leon