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Monday, April 3, 2017

François Couperin - Alexandre Tharaud plays Couperin


Composer: François Couperin; Jacques Duphly
  1. Couperin - Les Baricades Mistérieuses (6e ordre). Vivement
  2. Couperin - Le Tic-Toc-Choc ou Les Maillotins (18e ordre). Légèrement et marqué
  3. Couperin - La Couperin (21e ordre). D’une vivacité modérée
  4. Couperin - Les Calotines (19e ordre)
  5. Couperin - Les Ombres Errantes (25 e ordre). Languissamment
  6. Couperin - Les Tricoteuses (23e ordre). Très légèrement
  7. Couperin - Le Carillon de Cithére (14e ordre). Agréablement, sans lenteur
  8. Couperin - Muséte de Taverni (à 5 mains) (15 e ordre). Légèrement
  9. Couperin - Les Rozeaux (13e ordre). Tendrement, sans lenteur
  10. Couperin - L’Atalante (12e ordre). Très légèrement
  11. Couperin - Passacaille (8e ordre)
  12. Couperin - La Muse Plantine (19e ordre). Rondeau. Languissamment
  13. Couperin - Les Tours de passe-passe (22e ordre)
  14. Couperin - Bruit de guerre (extrait de La Triomphante) (10e ordre). Vivement
  15. Couperin - Le Dodo ou L’Amour au berceau (15e ordre). Sur le Mouvement des Berceuses
  16. Couperin - La Visionnaire (25 e ordre). Gravement et marqué
  17. Couperin - La Logivière (5 e ordre). Majestueusement, sans lenteur
  18. Couperin - Les Juméles (12e ordre). Affectueusement
  19. Couperin - Les Chérubins ou l’aimable Lazure (20e ordre). Légèrement
  20. Duphly - La Pothouïn - 4e livre de Pièces pour clavecin

Alexandre Tharaud, piano
Pablo Pico, tambour Dawul
Date: 2007
Label: Harmonia Mundi




Couperin seems to be making a pianistic splash lately, what with Angela Hewitt’s excellent Hyperion recitals, and now this marvelous new release from Alexandre Tharaud. Playing Couperin on the piano certainly entails a certain “authenticity” in the wider sense, since back in the good old Baroque days this music would be adapted to whatever keyboard instruments happened to be on hand, despite the fact that it was clearly imagined for the harpsichord. In fact, the music sounds excellent on the modern grand, and quite different than you might expect.

The very opening, Les baricades mistérieuses, has a dark warmth of coloration utterly different from the sonority the harpsichord can produce. The music truly sounds “modern”, particularly harmonically, almost like a Chopin prelude. In his booklet notes, Tharaud claims that the final piece, an encore in the form of Duphly’s La Pothouïn, foreshadows Schumann, but much of this music would not sound out of place in the Romantic era.

Tharaud’s selection of pieces, as intelligent as it is characterful, gives a superb sense of Couperin’s gifts. From the more abstract movements, such as the Passacaille from 8th Ordre, to the sensitively overdubbed delights of Muséte de taverni (and not forgetting the colorful percussive additions to Bruit de guerre), you will find a remarkable range of mood and expression.

For my money, the gentle humor of Le dodo and the evocative sonorities of Le carillon de Cithére all project more successfully on the piano than on the harpsichord. But then, Tharaud deserves the lion’s share of the credit in that he never tries to make his instrument sound like its predecessor. He uses the pedals poetically but with discretion, and he exploits the piano’s wide dynamic range very effectively to bring out contrapuntal detail or to highlight some particularly interesting harmony or inner voice. In short, he has selected a 20-item program in which the piano’s resources can be fully exploited in service of the music, and that’s just what you hear for 65 delightful minutes. The gorgeous sonics, warm but crystal clear, complete an irresistible package. [5/1/2007]

-- David Hurwitz, ClassicsToday

More reviews:


François Couperin (10 November 1668 – 11 September 1733) was a French Baroque composer, organist and harpsichordist. He was known as Couperin le Grand ("Couperin the Great") to distinguish him from other members of the musically talented Couperin family. Couperin's four volumes of harpsichord music, contain over 230 individual pieces, was loved by composers such as J. S. Bach, Brahms (who performed Couperin's music in public), R. Strauss (who orchestrated some Couperin's music) and Ravel (who wrote Le tombeau de Couperin).


Alexandre Tharaud (born 9 December 1968 in Paris) is a French pianist. He is active on the concert stage and has released a large and diverse discography. He entered the Conservatoire de Paris at the age of 14 where he won first prize for piano in the class of Germaine Mounier when he was 17 years old. With Theodor Paraskivesco, he mastered the piano, and he sought and received advice from Claude Helffer, Leon Fleisher and Nikita Magaloff. In 2012, Tharaud took part in the French film Amour by Michael Haneke where he played himself.


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