Couperin: Les goûts-réünis

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LABELS: Decca L’Oiseau-Lyre
WORKS: Les goûts-réünis
PERFORMER: Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 458 271-2
Couperin’s ten ‘concerts’, or suites, gathered under the title Les goûts-réünis ou Nouveaux concerts were published in Paris in 1724. ‘Nouveaux’ because Couperin had already issued in 1722 four such suites as ‘Concerts royaux’, ‘goûts réünis’ because a blend of styles, essentially those of France and Italy, was a frequently encountered fascination if not aspiration among French composers of the time. Most of the music in this collection was probably composed for the Sunday concerts at Versailles, organised by Mme de Maintenon for Louis XIV during the concluding years of his reign. But the Eighth Concert, ‘dans le goût théatral’, very probably contains music from a lost stage work. Couperin’s instrumentation is seldom cast in stone, and a wide degree of license, albeit dependent upon practicality, good taste and common sense, is allowed in performing these often very subtly expressive pieces. Christophe Rousset is no stranger to Couperin’s music having recorded all the solo harpsichord pieces, the three Leçons de ténèbres and several petits motets. In this new issue he brings, together with his mainly excellent ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques, a pleasing expressive delicacy to a repertoire which does not, by-and-large, wear its heart on its sleeve, and which responds to intuitive gestures as affectionate, intimate and as free from cliché and dogma as his. Nicholas Anderson