Tuesday, April 4, 2017

François Couperin - Les Nations (Hespèrion XX)


Information

Composer: François Couperin

CD1:
  • (01-09) Les Nations, Premier Ordre: "La Françoise"
  • (10-19) Les Nations, Second Ordre: "L'espagnole"
CD2:
  • (01-10) Les Nations, Troisième Ordre: "L'impériale"
  • (11-17) Les Nations, Quatrième Ordre: "La Piémontoise"

Hespèrion XX
Monica Huggett, violin
Chiara Banchini, violin
Jordi Savall, viol
Ton Koopman, harpsichord
Hopkinson Smith, theorbo
Stephen Preston, flute
Michel Henry, oboe
Claude Wassmer, bassoon
Ku Ebbinge, oboe

Jordi Savall, direction

Date: 1983
Label: Astrée


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Review

PERFORMANCE: ***** / SOUND: *****

Couperin’s four dance suites of Les nations were published in 1726. Each is prefaced with an Italianate trio sonata whose music, for three of them, derives from sonatas which Couperin wrote during the 1690s. The fourth, introducing ‘L’impériale’, is a more fluently mature piece which he probably composed much later on. If the introductory ‘Sonades’, as Couperin called them, are Italian in their idiom, then the appended dances are characteristically and unmistakeably French. Jordi Savall brings the music to life with mediterranean warmth and an intuitive feeling for dance rhythms and their individual gestures. This remains far the most satisfying version of Les nations. Between 1686 and 1725 Couperin’s contemporary Marin Marais published five collections of pieces for one, two and three bass viols with continuo. The pieces, derived mainly from the French dance tradition, are of enormous charm and embrace a rich expressive range. This disc features three dance suites from Marais’s Third and perhaps most impressive collection. The performances by Savall and his excellent continuo players are very fine indeed.

-- Nicholas Anderson, BBC Music Magazine

More reviews:
https://www.amazon.com/Couperin-Francois-Nations/dp/B0000017L3

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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).

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Hespèrion XXI is an international early music ensemble. The group was formed in Basel, Switzerland in 1974 as Hespèrion XX by Spanish musical director Jordi Savall, his wife Montserrat Figueras, Lorenzo Alpert and Hopkinson Smith. The group changed its name to Hesperion XXI at the beginning of the 21st century. The ensemble is noted for its scholarship in early music — especially the music of 16th and 17th century Spain.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hesp%C3%A8rion_XXI

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