Tuesday, 4 March 2008

70. François Couperin - Twenty-Seven Ordres (1713-30)


Title: L'Integrale de clavecin au château d'Assas
Performer: Scott Ross
Year: 1980s
Length: 12 CDs!


Sorry for the delay in posting this new instalment of the blog, but the list has just demanded that I listen to 12 CDs of (mostly) unaccompanied harpsichord music, and as you can imagine that takes a while.

I must confess I didn't listen to this recording the usual three times that I usually do to familiarise myself with a work. But I did listen all the way through the 12 CDs, and am at the moment slightly sick of harpsichord music.

This is not to say, however that the music wasn't good, because it was, and I have always liked Couperin, although I would probably choose some of his other works like the Concerts Royaux to represent him, instead of this Marathon.

It is interesting music, but actually more in concept than execution. Most of the pieces in this have titles which are very evocative, such as a sequence that examines different emotions while using what is essentially the same tune, or having little portraits of people in harpsichord form. All this gives a very poetic quality to the music, which seeks to represent more than just sounds, but defined emotions and images. And it is often successful at that. Unfortunately, however it is never as innovative or exciting as Rameau for example, and you would be better served with Rameau, particularly because his harpsichord work takes up 2 CDs.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

Couperin's four volumes of harpsichord music, published in Paris in 1713, 1717, 1722, and 1730, contain over 230 individual pieces, which can be played on solo harpsichord or performed as small chamber works. These pieces were not grouped into suites, as was the common practice, but ordres, which were Couperin's own version of suites containing traditional dances as well as descriptive pieces. The first and last pieces in an ordre were of the same tonality, but the middle pieces could be of other closely-related tonalities. These volumes were loved by J.S. Bach and, much later, Richard Strauss, as well as Maurice Ravel who memorialized their composer with Le Tombeau de Couperin (A Memorial to Couperin).

Les Barricades Misterieuses:

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