François Couperin: La Sultanne, Préludes & Concerts Royaux

François Couperin: La Sultanne, Préludes & Concerts Royaux

by Emmanuel Balssa
     
 
The centerpiece of this collection of chamber and solo keyboard works by François Couperin is "La sultane" (or sultanne), one of a group of early chamber works Couperin wrote under the influence of the Italian Arcangelo Corelli. This 12-minute quartet sonata is a fascinating Frenchification of the then-novel Italian trio sonata, with

Overview

The centerpiece of this collection of chamber and solo keyboard works by François Couperin is "La sultane" (or sultanne), one of a group of early chamber works Couperin wrote under the influence of the Italian Arcangelo Corelli. This 12-minute quartet sonata is a fascinating Frenchification of the then-novel Italian trio sonata, with Couperin packing in musical detail at high density even as he follows very melodic Italian models. "La sultane" is an unusual piece in our time, just as it was in Couperin's own; it has been found in only one French manuscript (not in Couperin's handwriting), whereas the two chamber pieces from the "Les goûts réunis" set included on the album are much more commonly heard. Scholars can't even agree on when "La sultane" was written, with dates from the early 1690s to 1710 having been proposed. And they're not sure who the titular sultaness might have been -- was she the wife of the Turkish Sultan, or someone else playfully (or memorially) so designated? That uncertainty somewhat diminishes the value of "La sultane" for the Alpha label's generally terrific series of recordings that packages compact discs together with high-quality reproductions of artworks contemporary with the music included. The booklet essays here are as interesting as ever, offering insights into Couperin's diverse music and into Marie-Adélaide, a painting of one of the daughters of Louis XV, attired in Turkish-style clothing as she reads with her feet up on a sofa. It's a painting with a lot to it, but it dates from 1753, at least 40 years after Couperin's piece. Couperin's "La sultane," to this Baroque-enthusiast but average ear, doesn't have much that's specifically Turkish in style about it. The connections drawn between painting and music in Alpha's series are never cut-and-dried, and that's all to the good. In this case, however, they seem tenuous indeed. All of which is not to say that this is anything less than a diverse and highly listenable collection of music by one of the greatest composers of the French Baroque, a man whose music reflected better than any other the ornate, hothouse atmosphere of the French court. Baroque oboist Alfredo Bernardini shines in the chamber sonatas, with a piercing yet graceful mien perfectly suited to Couperin's style. Harpsichordist Elisabeth Joyé is not quite as successful in the various dances and preludes from "L'art de toucher le clavecin" included here; she doesn't have the inclination toward the extreme that Couperin's music demands, but she is an effective accompanist in the ensemble works. Since Couperin's works tend to be issued on CD in the sets into which they were originally grouped, this attractive mix-and-match disc may well find a marketplace niche.

Product Details

Release Date:
03/22/2005
Label:
Alpha Productions
UPC:
3760014190629
catalogNumber:
62

Related Subjects

Tracks

  1. L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin): Septième Prélude en si bémol majeur  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé
  2. La Sultane, for 2 violins & continuo  - François Couperin  - Jérôme Hantaï  - Elisabeth Joyé  - Luis Otavio Santos
  3. L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin): Second Prélude en ré mineur  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé
  4. L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin): Allemande en ré mineur  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé
  5. L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin): Quatrième Prélude en fa majeur  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé
  6. L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin): Troisième Prélude en sol mineur  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé
  7. Quatorzième concert, for various instruments in D minor (Les Goûts Réunis)  - François Couperin  - Emmanuel Balssa  - Alfredo Bernardini  - François Fernandez  - Elisabeth Joyé
  8. Second livre des pièces de clavecin, for harpsichord: Allemande à deux clavecins  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé  - François Guerrier
  9. L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin): Cinquième Prélude en la majeur  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé
  10. L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin): Sixième Prélude en si mineur  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé
  11. L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin): Premier Prélude en do majeur  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé
  12. L'Art de toucher le Clavecin, for harpsichord (Pièces de clavecin): Huitième Prélude en si mineur  - François Couperin  - Elisabeth Joyé
  13. Neuvième concert intitulé Ritratto dell' amore, for various instruments in E major (Les Goûts réunis)  - François Couperin  - Emmanuel Balssa  - Alfredo Bernardini  - François Fernandez  - Elisabeth Joyé

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