De La Guerre

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

LABELS: Metronome
WORKS: Pièces de clavecin: Suite No. 1; Suite No. 2; Suite No. 3; Suite No. 4
PERFORMER: Carole Cerasi (harpsichord)
Although she was not the only woman composer of the French Baroque, Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre was by far the most substantial. She was sought after as a performer and was an improviser of note; she also had the rare distinction of a production of her opera, Cephale et Procris, at the Académie Royale de Musique. This collection of her harpsichord music is captivating. The four suites from her first book of harpsichord music of 1687 shows her to be very much at one with the delicacy and expressive language of her great predecessor Louis Couperin. Her particular originality emerges in occasional moments of harmonic unpredictability and a reflective sweetness, particularly apparent in the two later suites from her collection of 1707, perhaps prompted by deaths of virtually all her immediate family. Carole Cerasi captures the seductive volatility of Jacquet’s style to perfection; just listen to the Tocade prelude to the F major suite. Her playing has an innate elegance which brings this subtle and occasionally elusive music to vivid life. While the recording is admirably clear, I could have done with rather more resonance to dispel the illusion of being just a little too close to the harpsichord. Jan Smaczny