Suite for harpsichord No. 1 in G major (Pièces de Claveçin)
Suite for harpsichord No. 3 in D minor (Pièces de Claveçin)
Suite for harpsichord No. 2 in G minor (Pièces de Claveçin)
Although he occupied the exalted position of harpsichordist among Louis XIV's celebrated group of chamber musicians, Jean-Henri d'Anglebert is now known for the most part only to specialists. Indeed, this may be the only album ever to boast a cover blurb by longtime Indiana University musicologist Willi Apel, a scholar who helped lay the groundwork for the revival of early music by performers. Apel's commentary, more of which appears in the booklet (in French and English), points to d'Anglebert's skill "in continuing a melody," in "concatenating harmonies by way of suspensions," and in "meaningful" uses of ornamentation, much of which is, as with Bach's, written out. These descriptions are a bit inscrutable, but they point toward a large sweep and a certain restless quality in d'Anglebert's dances, which seem to take on great momentum as they land on suspensions instead of resolved chords. Though they fall into the strict forms of the dance suite genre, these works have depth and even magnificence. The G major and G minor suites end with a Galliarde followed by ground bass pieces: a chaconne-rondeau in the former case and a splendid passacaille in the second. In the G minor suite, especially, that makes for a powerful conclusion. Harpsichordist Laurent Stewart, playing a copy of a Flemish Ruckers instrument of 1638, makes the most of the instrument's power in the lower registers and delivers a fine performance that emphasizes the music's dimensions. General listeners shouldn't be discouraged by the specialist tone of the heavily footnoted booklet essay; it discusses such issues as the presence of Flemish harpsichords in Paris, as well as furnishing a sketch of d'Anglebert's (although it doesn't really make clear how much of the ornamentation is d'Anglebert's and how much is Stewart's). The sound, from a Lyon conservatory concert hall, is superb.
|Label:||Zig Zag Territories|