Jean Rondeau performs harpsichord works by Rameau and Royer

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4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Rameau; Royer
ALBUM TITLE: Rameau • Royer
WORKS: Rameau: Prelude; Les tendres plaintes; Les niais de Sologne; l’Entretien des muses; Sarabande; Musette en rondeau; Tambourin; Menuets; Les sauvages; Royer: Allemande; Les matelots; Tambourins; Le vertigo; La zaide; La marche, des Scythes; l’Aimable
PERFORMER: Jean Rondeau (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: Erato 2564697458


Jean Rondeau turns to fellow countrymen Rameau and Royer at the peak of their high Baroque pomp and circumstance for this follow-up to his debut disc, of JS Bach (reviewed April 2015). He contrives an ‘opera’ for the fingers in three acts, the first saluting poetry, the second, music, then finally dance; and its title ‘Vertigo’ is supplied by a fantastical rondeau from Royer’s 1746 Pièces de clavecin. In liner notes of almost wanton whimsicality Rondeau can’t resist referencing Hitchcock, but his performance of Le vertigo is a thing of pugilistic wonder, flouncing around like an operatic diva succumbing to a hissy fit. (By the by, there’s already a disc of Rameau and Royer titled Vertigo by Annamari Polho on Alba.)

Rondeau’s harpsichord – an ear-filling historical instrument housed in the Château d’Assas, and well known through the recordings of Scott Ross – proves a useful ally when Rondeau wants to turn up the flamboyance. He cuts a virtuosic swathe through Royer’s Marche des scythes, and tantalises with Tambourins, though the imposing heft lavished on Rameau’s Les niais de Sologne turns a touch unrelenting as its ‘doubles’ unfold. Nevertheless, the opening Prélude is elaborated with a languid soulfulness ever alert to Rameau’s anguished harmonic subtleties, and under Rondeau’s supple fingers, Royer’s concluding l’Aimable proves amiable indeed.


Paul Riley