Rameau: Pieces de Clavecin, Vol. 1

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COMPOSERS: Rameau
LABELS: Resonus
ALBUM TITLE: Rameau: Pieces de Clavecin, Vol. 1
WORKS: Suites in A minor, E minor & D minor/major; Menuet en rondeau
PERFORMER: Steven Devine (harpsichord)
CATALOGUE NO: RES10131

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Steven Devine doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet. Not content with the release of a new disc of Bach’s mighty Clavier-Übung II on Chandos (see left), he’s also in the driving seat for a three-part Resonus Classics project marking the 250th anniversary of Rameau’s death. The first instalment covers the first two books of the Pièces de clavecin, and he plays a resplendent copy of a Ruckers harpsichord, given a Parisian makeover in the year before Rameau’s death – coincidentally, the same instrument inspiring another copy used by Christophe Rousset for his landmark Rameau recordings a quarter of a century ago. Devine embraces the elusive (and allusive) sensibility of the clavecinists in style: he is authoritative, suave, technically dazzling and delivers immaculately manicured ornaments that lend brilliance and expressive introspection where required.

Rousset may have the idiomatic edge and seem more prepared to live in the moment, but Devine delivers an account of the famous Tambourin that takes no hostages. In the first ‘double’ of Les niais de Sologne he boldly sets right-hand triplets against left-hand quavers in an exhilarating display of twos-against-threes bravado, equally relishing the strenuous work-out for the left hand in the second variation.

His realisation of the A minor Suite’s ‘Prelude non mesure’ is hauntingly supple, (though he doesn’t follow Kenneth Gilbert’s contention that the opening section should be repeated), and his refusal to milk the sighing couplets of Les soupirs ensures a quiet eloquence. All told, an invigorating addition to Rameau year – roll on volumes two and three!

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Paul Riley