Rameau: Keyboard Suites in E minor,G minor and A minor

COMPOSERS: Rameau
LABELS: Hyperion
WORKS: Keyboard Suites in E minor,G minor and A minor
PERFORMER: Angela Hewitt (piano)

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Rameau’s keyboard music looks both forward and backward. His first harpsichord suite, published in 1706 well before any of François Couperin’s, is on the retrospective side including a partially measured prelude harking back to the previous century.

The later collections, from which the suites on this recording are taken, show a pervasive awareness of new developments including not just Couperin’s innovative keyboard writing, but at least one of Handel’s harpsichord collections. Rameau’s own attractive and occasionally audacious personality is also well to the fore here.

Angela Hewitt plays with persuasive insight and a keen stylistic feeling. The use of the modern piano does not prevent a natural, authentic approach to ornamentation and the use of inequality in some figuration.

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Some pieces really call out for the rhetorical brilliance of the full-blown, two-manual French harpsichord, notably the Gavotte and variations concluding the A minor suite. But on balance, this excellently recorded selection is a joy at nearly every turn.