Claude-Bénigne Balbastre: Music for Harpsichord

Claude-Bénigne Balbastre: Music for Harpsichord

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by Elizabeth Farr
     
 

Claude-Bénigne Balbastre was a student of Rameau and, from 1756, organist at Saint-Roch Church at what was then Paris' edge. The Marquis de Sade was married there in 1763, and one likes to imagine Balbastre playing these flashy, sensualist pieces of keyboard music at the event. Balbastre published a good deal of keyboard music, most of it forgotten except for a few… See more details below

Overview

Claude-Bénigne Balbastre was a student of Rameau and, from 1756, organist at Saint-Roch Church at what was then Paris' edge. The Marquis de Sade was married there in 1763, and one likes to imagine Balbastre playing these flashy, sensualist pieces of keyboard music at the event. Balbastre published a good deal of keyboard music, most of it forgotten except for a few characteristic examples, and this generous two-disc selection by harpsichordist Elizabeth Farr will be welcomed by anyone with an interest in Parisian music and culture of the 18th century. The music included covers an extended period from the late 1740s, when Balbastre's "Livre contenant des pieces de different genre d'orgue et de clavecin" closely followed Rameau's detailed little portraits in music, up to the 1790s, when the composer wrote a setting of the Marseillaise and another tune (the "Marche des Marseillois et l'air Ça-ira," track 16) in a successful attempt to ingratiate himself with the revolutionary authorities. Aside from a few stabs at coming to grips with the new styles of the Classical era, Balbastre mostly just turned up the volume on the language of the late French Baroque. His music is viscerally exciting but has the quality of hitting you over the head if you listen to two entire CDs of it. Farr gives it a very fine account here. The choice of instrument is quite unorthodox, but it works. She plays a copy of a Ruckers harpsichord with an added 16' stop, made by iconoclastic Michigan builder Keith Hill. As Hill freely concedes in a short note, neither Balbastre nor any other composer of his time is known to have used such an instrument, and Hill's argument for using one in this project seems to boil down to the fact that it sounds cool. He could, however, have made a better argument: many of these pieces, and much of Balbastre's output in general, was presented as suitable for either organ or harpsichord, and a performance that bulks up the harpsichord to organ dimensions makes a good deal of musical sense. At any rate, the instrument rocks, it rolls, it brings the house down. Booming sound from a mysterious small-town Michigan venue called Ploger Hall adds to the generally heated atmosphere. Farr's own notes, which delve into Balbastre's music in quite a bit of detail, are given in English and French.

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Product Details

Release Date:
01/26/2010
Label:
Naxos
UPC:
0747313203475
catalogNumber:
8572034-35
Rank:
296768

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. La Marche des Marseillais  - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre  - Elizabeth Farr
  2. Prelude, for organ  - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre  - Elizabeth Farr
  3. Work(s)  - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre  - Elizabeth Farr
  4. La D'Esclignac, for harpsichord  - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre  - Elizabeth Farr
  5. Work(s)  - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre  - Elizabeth Farr
  6. Pièces de Clavecin, Book 1  - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre  - Elizabeth Farr

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