Jean Rondeau performs harpsichord works by Rameau and Royer
Jean Rondeau turns to fellow countrymen Rameau and Royer at the peak of their high Baroque pomp and circumstance for this follow-up to his debut disc, of JS Bach (reviewed April 2015). He contrives an ‘opera’ for the fingers in three acts, the first saluting poetry, the second, music, then finally dance; and its title ‘Vertigo’ is supplied by a fantastical rondeau from Royer’s 1746 Pièces de clavecin. In liner notes of almost wanton whimsicality Rondeau can’t resist referencing Hitchcock, but his performance of Le vertigo is a thing of pugilistic wonder, flouncing around like an operatic diva succumbing to a hissy fit. (By the by, there’s already a disc of Rameau and Royer titled Vertigo by Annamari Polho on Alba.)
Rondeau’s harpsichord – an ear-filling historical instrument housed in the Château d’Assas, and well known through the recordings of Scott Ross – proves a useful ally when Rondeau wants to turn up the flamboyance. He cuts a virtuosic swathe through Royer’s Marche des scythes, and tantalises with Tambourins, though the imposing heft lavished on Rameau’s Les niais de Sologne turns a touch unrelenting as its ‘doubles’ unfold. Nevertheless, the opening Prélude is elaborated with a languid soulfulness ever alert to Rameau’s anguished harmonic subtleties, and under Rondeau’s supple fingers, Royer’s concluding l’Aimable proves amiable indeed.