Rameau: Pièces de clavecin

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LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
WORKS: Pièces de clavecin
PERFORMER: Sophie Yates (harpsichord)
Sophie Yates extends her varied solo harpsichord survey for Chandos with a recital of pieces by Rameau. Here, she plays his earliest collection of 1706 together with that of 1724 which contains groups of pieces centred around the keys of E minor and D minor, respectively. The character of the pieces of the 1706 (A minor) publication is Janus-like, looking both backward and forward. This is especially true of the opening Prélude, partly ‘non mésuré’, whose subtle inflections often seem to elude performers. Yates makes more of this delicately wrought piece than any other rival that I can think of. She also brings great charm to the remaining pieces, all of them dances, avoiding both overstatement and anything in the nature of pretentious expressive contrivance. The 1724 ‘recueil’ contains some items of an altogether grander design, notably ‘Les tendres plaintes’, ‘Les niais de Sologne’ (a fine variation piece), ‘L’entretien des Muses’ and ‘Les cyclopes’. Yates performs them with expressive panache and technical virtuosity, yet I still find William Christie in a class of his own in his splendid evocation of those one-eyed giants of classical legend forging their thunderbolts, or whatever. But this is nonetheless an excellent disc which I hope will lead to a sequel containing the remainder of Rameau’s beguiling solo keyboard music. Nicholas Anderson