Alexei Lubimov is a Russian pianist who also plays fortepiano and harpsichord. In his early years he studied at the Moscow Central Music School, and in 1963, entered the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied with Heinrich Neuhaus and Lew Naumov. He developed a strong interest in Baroque music and 20th century modernist works. Lubimov gave the Soviet premieres of many western compositions, including pieces by Charles Ives, Arnold Schoenberg, John Cage, Terry Riley, Pierre Boulez, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, which brought censorship from the Soviet authorities. For a number of years he was prevented from traveling outside the Soviet Union. Turning to his interest in period instruments and authentic performance practices, he founded the Moscow Baroque Quartet and co-founded the Moscow Chamber Academy with Tatiana Grindenko.
It is only recently that the cantata Ariane consolated by Bacchus was attributed to Couperin, on the strength of many technical details too complex to be unrolled, but perfectly convincing. It is therefore a kind of first world discography of a work of this great composer that Christophe Rousset gives us, with the superb voice of Stéphane Degout whose impeccable speech allows to understand absolutely every word. There follow two immense apotheoses of the same, that of Corelli dated 1724 and that of Lully of the following year. These are very ample instrumental suites in the style of, with quotations, allusions, jokes of all kinds, in a quasi-theatrical and very descriptive writing approaching a kind of programmed music.
A midprice reissue collecting this young French pianist s three baroque recordings. I fell in love with Tharaud s Rameau disc several years ago and never once missed the rattling sound of the harpsichord. Tharaud points out that Rameau s frequent ornamentation would have served to prolong notes on a harpsichord. This isn t necessary on a modern piano, and there s an incredible delicacy to the pianism here, with the trills and turns played with a barely credible lightness of touch. It s infectious stuff, with the witty character pieces from the Suite in G vivid and alive.
This beautiful recording, once long out-of-print, is now remastered in high definition multi-channel hybrid SACD, and is the first album made by Jordi Savall for the Astrée label, now reissued on Alia Vox. With this rare 1975 disc, Savall confirmed François Couperin as a master composer for viola da gamba with affinities to the previous masters of French music. On the recording Mr. Savall plays an authentic 7-string bass viol, anonymously constructed in 17th century France. He is joined by musicians Ton Koopman playing a Gilbert des Ruisseaux harpsichord built in the late 17th century and Ariane Maurette playing a Barak Norman bass viol constructed in London in 1697. Couperin’s music for these colorful instruments is marvelous, contemplative and beguiling. The highly collectible album, a must-have of the Savall oeuvre, is now available again and features a very informative booklet.
Original released by Auvidis France in 1986. This reissue released by Auvidis-Naïve in 2000 (ES 9956). Couperin places himself between the Italian and French musical styles of his day to create something rather greater than either. For the most part early works, these sonatas with dance suites combine the style of Lully and Louis XIV's court with Corelli's brilliance: the result is a Grand Tour of the high Baroque, given, s'il vous plait, with a French accent. Savall's rendition, true to form, is dark, elegant, and supple. He assigns the trio-sonata texture to differing combinations of violins, oboes, and traversi, all with a large and inspired continuo group. Performers: Monica Huggett, Chiara Banchini, Ton Koopman, Hopkinson Smith, Stephen Preston, Ku Ebbinge &c. Highly recommended.
The organ music of Louis Couperin, an uncle of François, clearly pointed toward the French High Baroque style and has received a good number of recordings, but his harpsichord music is less fortunate. This is largely because they're imperfectly understood, at both the macro and micro levels. This release by celebrated French keyboardist Christophe Rousset contains half a dozen works designated as suites, but those are entirely his own creation. They exist only in manuscript, grouped mostly by dance rhythm; there are some ground bass pieces and some preludes without bar lines in a separate group.
François Couperin ‘Le Grand’ is the most important member of the Couperin dynasty, whose elegant and trend‐setting music is known to have influenced great composers such as J.S. Bach, Telemann and Handel. After becoming organist at St. Gervais in Paris at the age of just 12, he was later appointed Organiste du Chapelle du Roy. It was here that he composed the Concerts Royaux and the Goûts‐Réunis (or Nouveaux Concerts) for the entertainment of the aging King Louis XIV. Each includes the florid ornamentation typical of the French Baroque and is extremely adaptable, essentially written for a treble and bass instrument and continuo.
Getting French baroque keyboard music right begins with getting the trills—the grace notes—right, especially Couperin. Getting the trills right means getting them to sound like an integral part of the note upon which they are intended to lend… well, grace. Rather than as an adornment, which invariably comes across as an affectation. Trills are the vibrato of a plucked keyboard, designed to give the note more extension. Pierre Hantaï, one of the world’s finest harpsichord players, gets the trills right. He gets them so right I didn’t even notice at first why his Couperin sounds so good.
Hailed for his “revelatory” account of Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier (The New York Times), Richard Egarr turns to one of the least known collections for solo harpsichord. This complete recording of the solo oeuvre of Louis Couperin (c.1626-1661) revels in his full harmonic and contrapuntal textures, marked by a poignant use of dissonance – music that entrances the ear!