Pièces de Clavecin, Op. 1
Christophe Rousset (harpsichord)
Aparté AP236 100:00 mins (2 discs)
Armand-Louis Couperin is a member of the illustrious musical dynasty. He was the son of Nicolas, a cousin of François Couperin ‘le grand’ and was born in 1727. Like the better-known Duphly and Balbastre, Armand-Louis belongs to the last generation of French harpsichord composers. His career in Paris was a distinguished one and at various times he was organist of St Gervais, where several members of the family including his father and François had previously held the post, the cathedral of Notre-Dame, the Sainte-Chapelle and the Chapelle Royale at Versailles. He died in 1789 from injuries inflicted by a runaway horse, a little over five months before the storming and fall of the Bastille.
This new and sympathetically recorded release features all of the pieces contained in his only published collection of solo harpsichord pieces, the Pièces de clavecin of 1751. The quality of invention is perhaps a little uneven but the strongest pieces, and they form the majority, are splendid. In addition to a spacious Allemande and a finely crafted Courante there are several galanteries and a profusion of character pieces. Among these last mentioned, Les Cacqueteuses (prattlers), whose recording many years ago by Marcelle de Lacour was my own introduction to the music of Armand-Louis Couperin, L’Affligée and Les Tendres Sentimens, with its deliciously perfumed air of ‘nostalgie’ are notably depictive. Four tableaux, Les Quatre Nations (Italian, English, German and French) round off the handsome publication, and Christophe Rousset’s fine recital on an 18th-century harpsichord by Jean-Claude Goujon.