LABELS: Decca L’Oiseau-Lyre
WORKS: Pièces de clavecin (complete)
PERFORMER: Christophe Rousset (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 458 588-2
In his accompanying booklet notes, Christophe Rousset promotes Jean-Henry D’Anglebert as an innovator of the harpsichord, a man who had intimate connections with the Lully circle but also cultivated a far wider area of musical influences, including those of the lutenist-composer Gaultier, the viol player-composer Marais, the flute player Jacques Hotteterre. Of these composers’ work he made many transcriptions and variations. Yet the world of his own music is an original one, highly refined, sophisticated, elevated, exquisitely balanced, with the accent on sustaining rich sounds through lavish, precisely indicated ornamentation, and an expansive feeling about everything. A purveyor of mere charm he was not.
Rousset groups the pieces, only some of which appear in D’Anglebert’s only printed collection, of 1689 (and are there appended by a vast table of ornaments) according to key. They include four self-contained suites, three of which begin with grandiose unmeasured preludes. Excluded here are transcriptions and variations that appear in manuscript sources only. The sense of nobility and richness can be cloying if one listens at one sitting, though D’Anglebert’s ground bass pieces have an arching magnificence about them. Rousset is enraptured by this sound-world, and relishes the range of colours, the sense, almost, of ostentation, the sureness of direction, to the full. Stephen Pettitt