Rameau: Suites Nos 1 & 2; Pièces de clavecin – Concerts Nos 1-3; Air des Paladins (trans. Balbastre)

COMPOSERS: Rameau
LABELS: Toccata
ALBUM TITLE: Complete Keyboard Music, Vol. 1
WORKS: Suites Nos 1 & 2; Pièces de clavecin – Concerts Nos 1-3; Air des Paladins (trans. Balbastre)
PERFORMER: Stephan Gutman (piano)

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CATALOGUE NO: TOCC 0050
It is over 50 years since the French pianist, Marcelle Meyer, made her celebrated recording of Rameau’s keyboard music (on EMI, available on import only). Since then, many more pieces have been discovered, making older printed or recorded anthologies not quite as complete as they once seemed. Stephen Gutman’s projected ‘complete’ edition will include solo piano adaptations by Gutman himself of all five of the suites comprising the Pièces de clavecin en concerts – the present disc features Concerts 1-3 – as well as the keyboard transcriptions of pieces from Rameau’s opera ballet, Les Indes galantes, another piece, Les petits marteaux, attributed to Rameau by the American scholar David Fuller, and three further pieces of Rameau’s music arranged by contemporaries of his. This disc includes a transcription by Balbastre of part of the ouverture to the opera, Les paladins.

Gutman’s playing is sensitive, lightly articulated and cautious in its expressive range. At times he errs on the side of understatement. It is, though, engaging for its ornamental delicacy and communicative lyricism. Among the highlights are the ‘Vénitienne’ from the A minor Suite and ‘Le rappel des oiseaux’ from that in E minor. In summary, a worthwhile venture and not just for its completeness. It complements Meyer’s more overtly pianistic approach, though in no sense topples it. I look forward to the remaining volumes.

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Nicholas Anderson