John Eliot Gardiner has proved himself a doughty champion of the later French Baroque, cultivating credible performing methods and unearthing undeservedly neglected repertoire. These nine CDs offer both rich musical rewards and an insight into developing approaches to interpretation. The earliest repertoire in the set is the volume of Francois Couperin's 'apotheoses' of Lully and Corelli, a sensual and programmatic feast in which this charmingly didactic composer attempts to reconcile the best of French and Italian taste.
Skip Sempé is a world-renowned virtuoso harpsichord player, ensemble conductor, and the founder of the early music group Capriccio Stravagante. He has won acclaim as a solo harpsichord player with a striking control over the often inflexible tone of the instrument and as an authoritative and stylish interpreter of Baroque-era continuo realizations from figured bass.
French composers of the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries delighted in adorning their pieces with foreign, in particular, Italian, elements, often calling attention to them in the titles. Among the most subtle transalpine stylists was Francois Couperin, who was refining the ‘French style’ and publishing his legacy in the form of harpsichord and chamber music. His contemporary, Marin Marais, contributed his own subtle essay in the exotic, a “Suitte d’un gout etranger” published in his Fourth Book of Pieces de une et a trois viole (1717), nearly 30 years after his First Book (the epitome of French viol playing) had appeared.