- Cinquième concert, for harpsichord, violin (or flute) & viola da gamba (or second violin) (Pièces de clavecin en concerts)
- Troisième concert, for harpsichord, violin (or flute) & viola da gamba (or second violin) (Pièces de clavecin en concerts)
- Premier concert, for harpsichord, violin (or flute) & viola da gamba (or second violin) (Pièces de clavecin en concert)
- Deuxième concert, for harpsichord, violin (or flute) & viola da gamba (or second violin) (Pièces de clavecin en concerts)
- Quatrième concert, for harpsichord, violin (or flute) & viola da gamba (or second violin) (Pièces de clavecin en concerts)
Rameau's puzzlingly titled "Pièces de clavecin en concerts" are in a genre unto themselves. Written for harpsichord with accompanying instruments (several configurations of strings or flute are possible), they perhaps represented a grudging concession by the great French master to the rising vogue for Italian music; he was willing to write for strings and keyboard, but not to go so far as writing trio sonatas, and he grouped his little character pieces into sets of three or four that roughly corresponded to the movements of an Italian sonata. By the standards of Rameau, who could be as fearsomely intellectual as Bach when the mood struck him, these are light works. In their extramusical references, however, these works are completely French, with many of the individual movements serving as descriptions in music of individuals in Rameau's circle. It's not always known who they were; nor is the referential framework always clear at a distance of almost three centuries. The title of the movement "La Coulicam" (track 8), for example, was long thought to be a pun on a term meaning cuckolded husband, but recent research has shown that it refers instead to a novel about a Persian king named Kulai Khan. In many other cases, however, there is no doubt about the artists, patrons, and musicians (even Rameau himself) who are represented. The booklet notes (in French and English) by François Filiatrault are exemplary in their way of bringing this culturally fertile milieu to life. Better still are the performances themselves, by the Montreal-based historical-performance group Ensemble Masques: breezy, conversational, ingenious. And, for an added bonus, you get a priceless set of French caricatures of the period on the cover of the album. A fabulous outing from ATMA's ongoing collection of releases showcasing the musicians of Montreal's early music scene, and one of the very best of these.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This disc is marvelous! I have always enjoyed Rameau's music, but the performance captured here is top notch. The harpsichord is bright and spritely, and Olivier Fortin plays it with obvious joie de vivre - particularly in the Troisieme Concert pieces. Anne Thivierge's flute makes a wonderful companion to this jaunty keyboard, as does Sophie Gent's Violin. The Basse Viole, played by Melisande Corriveau, possesses a warm voice with good quality of tone, and blends very very well with the other members of this young ensemble. In fact, the quality of the recording as a whole is extremely well balanced, and the dialogue between the various instruments is a pleasure to listen to. This group also has a sensitive and somber side, as evidenced in the Deuxieme Concert, particularly in the "1er Menuet et 2e Menuet". And a warm and intellectual interpretation of the Permier Concert is a feast for both the mind and the ears. This is the kind of music making that makes the listener want to get up and learn how to Minuet if he/she doesn't already know. Delightful!