CPE Bach, Couperin, Rameau

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Couperin,CPE Bach,Rameau
LABELS: Claves
WORKS: Sonata in B flat; Sonata in D minor; Sonata in F, Wq 51/2, 4 & 5
PERFORMER: Lars Ulrik Mortensen, Anne Gallet, Christiane Jaccottet (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: CD 50-9908
The ‘trade descriptions’ people might have something to say about this disc entitled The Baroque Harpsichord. The instrument featured is a magnificently restored harpsichord by the Swiss maker Stirnemann, though one which was built in 1777 when most makers were turning their hand to the fortepiano in an era when the musical Baroque had certainly ebbed. Much the same is true of the three sonatas by CPE Bach – full of the sensibilities of a new age, many of their movements sound as if they would be more at home on an instrument that hits instead of plucks, despite Lars Ulrik Mortensen’s attractive readings.

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The remainder of the disc is, terminologically speaking, on safer ground. Anne Gallet gives an ultra-sensitive performance of François Couperin’s last Ordre. Some may find her ready tendency to bend rhythm a little excessive, but to my mind it is within acceptable limits and does much to externalise the quirky, occasionally expressionist world of late Couperin – for a taster try ‘Les chinois’. Christiane Jaccottet’s view of Rameau’s E minor Suite is more straightforward: idiomatic performances of such favourites as ‘Le rappel des oiseaux’ and Rameau’s best known ‘Tambourin’ make an attractive endpiece to this celebration of a fine-toned instrument. Jan Smaczny