Collection: French Baroque Harpsichord

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Couperin & Forqueray,D’Anglebert,Rameau
LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
WORKS: Music by D’Anglebert, Rameau, Couperin & Forqueray
PERFORMER: Sophie Yates (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0545 DDD

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This charming solo disc offers a glimpse of French harpsichord music at an exciting time. Between 1689, when d’Anglebert’s Pièces de claveçin was published, and 1747, when Forqueray’s Pièces de viole appeared in transcriptions for harpsichord, keyboard styles were in a state of flux. As the newer Italian influences popular in the early 1700s were absorbed into the French tradition, the forceful Baroque formalism of d’Anglebert was giving way to the more elegant Rococo virtuosity devised by Couperin and Rameau. Rameau’s pieces here are especially captivating, from the quirkily melodic L’enharmonique to the brilliant, dashing L’égyptienne.

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The lesser-known Forqueray also impresses: from the tender La Sylva to the thunderbolt-hurling Jupiter. The highlight of the Couperin is Les idées heureuses, an example of the arpeggiated style brisé. Sophie Yates, on her debut solo CD, plays with panache. Her approach – fleet, graceful, sensitive – is perfectly attuned to the intricacies of Couperin and Rameau. But her d’Anglebert, all silvery courtliness, is perhaps understated: I prefer the more clangorous grandeur that Kenneth Gilbert (on Harmonia Mundi HMA 190941) finds in this music. The low recording level is also a minor irritation. Graham Lock