Rameau: Nouvelles suites de pieces in A; Nouvelles suites de pieces in G; Pièces de clavecin en concerts (excerpts, arr. Harpsichord); La dauphine

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COMPOSERS: Rameau
LABELS: Chandos Chaconne
ALBUM TITLE: Pices de clavecin, Vol. 2
WORKS: Nouvelles suites de pieces in A; Nouvelles suites de pieces in G; Pièces de clavecin en concerts (excerpts, arr. Harpsichord); La dauphine
PERFORMER: Sophie Yates (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0708
With this disc Sophie Yates complements her earlier explorations of Rameau’s harpsichord oeuvre, and confirms her top ranking in a repertoire long considered an authoritative measure of the performer’s skill. Yates’s strengths are clearly suited to those of Rameau: depth of characterisation, polarised moods and a delight in the instrument’s sonorities. In the Suite in G she indulges Rameau’s passion for luthé (arpeggiated) writing while respecting each movement’s choreography: her lavish ornamentation gently tugs against the pulse without disrupting either the momentum or the metric pattern of each dance. The lush colours of her instrument (after a Goujon original) enhance this overtly sensual reading. Her instinct for representing character – a complex and central concept in French Baroque composition – is profound. A frustrated stage composer in 1728, Rameau poured his genius for drama into pièces such as ‘Les sauvages’ whose psychological complexity drove him to reuse them in his later theatre compositions. Such works demand technical brilliance and empathy; Yates delivers both. Christophe Rousset, whose 1991 recordings for Decca L’Oiseau-Lyre remain a benchmark for future performers, offers in some cases a more shaded view of the pièces de caractère. However, Yates brings an impishness that contrasts starkly with Rousset’s solemnity: she often renders the composer’s bizarre modulations as sly jokes, while in Rousset’s hands they become weighty statements. Rameau sought above all to rattle the harmonic cage of his day, and Yates beguiles by depicting him as both irreverent and inventive. Berta Joncus

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