Claude-Bénigne Balbastre: Music for Harpsichord

( 1 )

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
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 ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - James Manheim
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: 1/26/2010
  • Label: Naxos
  • UPC: 747313203475
  • Catalog Number: 8572034-35
  • Sales rank: 142,349

Tracks

Disc 1
  1. 1–17 Pièces de Clavecin, Book 1 - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre & Elizabeth Farr (87:36)
    Composed byClaude-Bénigne Balbastre
    1. 1La de Caze
    2. 2La d'Héricourt
    3. 3La Ségur
    4. 4La Monmartel ou La Brunoys
    5. 5La Boullongne
    6. 6La Castelmore
    7. 7La Courteille
    8. 8La Bellaud
    9. 9La Lamarck
    10. 10La Berville
    11. 11La Lugeac
    12. 12La Suzanne
    13. 13La Genty
    14. 14La Malesherbe
    15. 15La Berryer ou La Lamoignon
    16. 16La Laporte
    17. 17La Morisseau
  2. 18 Work(s) - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre & Elizabeth Farr (12:53)
    Composed byClaude-Bénigne Balbastre
  3. 19 La D'Esclignac, for harpsichord - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre & Elizabeth Farr (6:14)
    Composed byClaude-Bénigne Balbastre
Disc 2
  1. 1 Work(s) - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre & Elizabeth Farr (18:51)
    Composed byClaude-Bénigne Balbastre
  2. 2 Prelude, for organ - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre & Elizabeth Farr (3:09)
    Composed byClaude-Bénigne Balbastre
  3. 3 La Marche des Marseillais - Claude-Bénigne Balbastre & Elizabeth Farr (6:37)
    Composed byClaude-Bénigne Balbastre
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Album Credits

Performance Credits
Elizabeth Farr Primary Artist
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Having a Bal-Bastre

    Probably best-known as an organist-Claude-Bénigne Balbastre's charming noëls are most familiar-but his harpsichord music has enjoyed little acclaim. Balbastre (1727-1799) was a virtuoso organist known for his quirky improvisations during church services and also remembered as a friend to the aristocracy during the final years of the ancient régime. Balbastre taught Marie-Antoinette the harpsichord but fortunately dodged the guillotine blade when revolutionary murderers changed France forever. Fondly remembered by Charles Burney in his Present State of Music in France and Italy, Balbastre died in poverty. Thanks to the always excellent harpsichordist Elizabeth Farr for serving up this recording of Balbastre's highly engaging music.

    Balbastre was certainly no Couperin or Rameau (with whom he studied) but there is plenty of excellent music to enjoy. Fairly typical of the period, Balbastre's Pièces de clavecin is comprised of little character portraits. These are filled with an equal mix of wit and tenderness. La Castelmore opens with a delicious imitation of country pipers while its second part is marked by its gentle sweetness. The balance of the recording features a sampling of Balbastre's Livre contenant des pieces de different genre d'orgue et de clavecin, a collection of 75 works for keyboard. Farr plays eight of the 24 works for harpsichord. She closes the program with the Marche des Marseillois et l'air Ça-ira, a set of variations on the revolutionary tunes la Marseillaise and Ça ira. It's a kind of bittersweet snapshot of Balbastre's place in revolutionary France.

    Farr plays a big Keith Hill harpsichord with two buff stops. Perhaps not exactly the harpsichord Balbastre would have played-French harpsichords with 16' stops have not survived-but it sure sounds good. Big bass sound and tasteful use of the buff stops make this outstanding at every turn.

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