Couperin: Les apothéoses

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LABELS: Astrée Auvidis Naïve
WORKS: Les apothéoses
PERFORMER: Hespèrion XX/Jordi Savall
CATALOGUE NO: ES 9947 Reissue (1986, 1997)
Couperin’s synthesis of French and Italian styles reached a peak in two works of the 1720s which reveal his refined assimilation of their contrasting essentials. The shorter of them, L’apothéose de Corelli, pays tribute to Couperin’s older Italian contemporary in a Grande sonade en trio. L’apothéose de Lully, containing elements both of sonata and suite, is more complex, with a programmatic element signposted with carefully positioned tempo markings and a profusion of descriptive titles. Jordi Savall and Hespèrion XX provide lively, idiomatic performances employing a mixed ensemble – Couperin did not specify instrumentation; but some readers may, like me, find the spoken introduction to their movements irritating, especially since they are reproduced in the accompanying leaflet. Nicholas Anderson