Collection: Divers Styles Dans L’eloquence

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COMPOSERS: Anonymous,Couperin,Frescobaldi,Froberger
LABELS: Collins
WORKS: Pièces de Clavecin from the Bauyn Manuscript, Vol. 2: Couperin, Froberger & Frescobaldi
PERFORMER: Jane Chapman (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 14212 DDD

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The source for this three-volume series of recordings by Jane Chapman is the sumptuous Bauyn Manuscript – a retrospective collection of 17th-century French keyboard music, including works by two of the finest clavecinistes, Chambonnières and his pupil Louis Couperin, whose music is the focal point for this CD.

The recording is arranged ‘to illustrate the influences, development and innovations of keyboard writing’ during the period, and while this makes for an interesting lesson in keyboard styles, it does result in a rather unrelenting series of pieces in minor keys. That said, the unmeasured pieces by Couperin and Froberger – musical counterparts to the unpunctuated verse of ee cummings – provide the perfect showcase for Jane Chapman’s imaginative and musical interpretations, heard here on a 1614 Ruckers instrument.

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The music is written in stemless white notes, so the rhythm is left entirely to the whim of the performer. Such is Jane Chapman’s panache and affinity with this repertoire that one almost feels the composer in person is improvising at the keyboard. In addition to the Couperin and Froberger there are a couple of pieces by Frescobaldi and four anonymous Pavanes, further illustrating Chapman’s ‘diverse styles of eloquence’. Kate Bolton