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La famille Rameau

Justin Taylor (harpsichord, piano) (Alpha Classics)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

La famille Rameau
J-P Rameau: Pièces de clavecin; Nouvelle suite de pièces de clavecin; C-F Rameau: La forqueray; plus works by L Rameau, C Rameau, Tapray and Debussy
Justin Taylor (harpsichord, piano)
Alpha Classics ALPHA721   78:41 mins

Now, here is something for collectors and enthusiasts who think they have got the lot: keyboard pieces by members of the Rameau family. Apart from its towering chief luminary, the dynasty cannot compete either artistically or numerically with the Couperins and the Bachs, but there is much of interest, nonetheless, and Justin Taylor is to be applauded for his explorations.

As we might expect, the greater part of the recital is given over to Jean-Philippe Rameau, the great Rameau, himself. Taylor has made a discerning choice of harpsichord pieces from the composer’s several collections, happily including the splendid A minor Gavotte and Variations. All the family pieces, apart from those by Jean-Philippe himself were quite new to me, among them a little Menuet by Claude Rameau, younger brother of Jean-Philippe, La Forqueray by Jean-Philippe’s eldest son, Claude-François and a Rondo Grazioso by Lazare Rameau, a son by Claude Rameau’s second marriage. Sadly, perhaps, the most widely known of Jean-Philippe’s descendants, the nephew immortalised in Diderot’s philosophical dialogue, is not represented since he is not known to have written any music. Two further items complete this fascinating family portrait. One features Les Sauvages from Jean-Philippe’s opera-ballet Les Indes galantes, in a set of rococo variations by a noted harpsichord teacher and theoretician, Jean-François Tapray; the other, Hommage à Rameau, by that most perceptive champion of the composer’s music, Claude Debussy. For this, Taylor has chosen a warm-sounding Érard piano, while for the remainder of his accomplished recital he plays the superb Donzelague harpsichord belonging to the Château of Assas.

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Nicholas Anderson