LABELS: Deutsche Harmonia Mundi
WORKS: Suites, Pavanes & Preludes
PERFORMER: Skip Sempé (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 05472 77210 2 DDD
Jacques Champion de Chambonnières (1601-72), harpsichordist to Louis XIV, was regarded as the finest composer and performer of his time. Widely recognised as the father of the French harpsichord school, his music, according to Sempé, has as much poetry as dance in it. The 31 pieces offered here have been taken from manuscript and printed sources, and there are some highly imaginative preludes by Sempé himself and d’ Anglebert’ s Le Tombeau de Chambonnières for good measure. The arrangement of the pieces into suites is Sempé’s own; this is as much an edition of the music as a compilation.
The playing is of the highest quality, and provides evidence of Sempé’s scholarship and interpretative skill. Of particular interest is his revival of the practice of playing ‘en concert’, with the lute, here played by Brian Feehan, adding improvised continuo parts (tracks 6, 14, 22, 26 and 30). The harpsichord, a late 17th-century Flemish instrument, is rich and resonant, and Sempé’s matching of performance and means is nowhere more evident than in the opening Prelude or the Pavane (track 23). This superbly recorded disc is invaluable as much for its scholarly contribution as for its splendid performances. Nicholas Rast