Rameau, Couperin

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COMPOSERS: Couperin,Rameau
LABELS: Decca
WORKS: Suite in G; Suite in D minor; Suite in E minor, Suite No.1 in A minor; Suite No. 2 in A minor; La dauphine
PERFORMER: George Malcolm (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: 468 555-2 ADD Reissue (1967, 1969)
When George Malcolm recorded his complete, or almost complete survey of Rameau’s music for solo harpsichord over 35 years ago there were few rival versions to be had. Since 1965, however, this immensely rewarding side to Rameau’s art has been explored with ever-increasing zeal, and Malcolm’s re-entry to the tilting list is at once challenged on all sides. Where he is most constantly at a disadvantage is in the sound of his instrument, for the harpsichord-building renaissance was in its infancy or, at least, early childhood in the Sixties. But interpretative ideas have also changed since then and, especially in respect of ‘notes inégales’ and other rhythmic details, Malcolm’s performances do not always convince as persuasively as those by Christophe Rousset, Trevor Pinnock, Scott Ross or Noëlle Spieth. It is Rameau’s earlier pieces which suffer most, the later great A minor Suite (c1728) revealing much of Malcolm’s refinement of expression, the supple strength of his technique and his innate musicianship. But, in the end, aided and abetted by the poor quality of the tapes, these performances are museum pieces, albeit as often as not rewarding ones. Nicholas Anderson

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