Tuesday, April 4, 2017

François Couperin - Pièces de violes (Jordi Savall; Ton Koopman)


Information

Composer: François Couperin
  1. Pièces de violes: Première suite: I. Prélude
  2. Pièces de violes: Première suite: II. Allemande légere
  3. Pièces de violes: Première suite: III. Courante
  4. Pièces de violes: Première suite: IV. Sarabande grave
  5. Pièces de violes: Première suite: V. Gavotte
  6. Pièces de violes: Première suite: VI. Gigue
  7. Pièces de violes: Première suite: VII. Passacaille ou Chaconne
  8. Pièces de violes: Deuxième suite: I. Prélude
  9. Pièces de violes: Deuxième suite: II. Fuguéte
  10. Pièces de violes: Deuxième suite: III. Pompe funèbre
  11. Pièces de violes: Deuxième suite: IV. La Chemise blanche

Jordi Savall, bass viol with seven strings
Ton Koopman, harpsichord
Ariane Maurette, bass viol

Date: 1975
Label: Alia Vox
https://www.alia-vox.com/cataleg.php?id=105


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Review

The memory of hearing Jordi Savall’s 1975 recording of Couperin’s two unequalled Suites for bass viols has never left me, so returning to it after many years was inevitably loaded with expectations. In the interim a new generation of interpreters has emerged, including Philippe Pierlot in 2008 and, now, Mikko Perkola.

Savall’s version still has the power to stun the listener. In the first phrase of the Prélude of the E minor First Suite, we enter the soundscape of another era, as in Watteau’s paintings of the mythical island of Cythera, both courtly and ethereal. Although still at the beginning of his career as a viol player, Savall, serenely supported by Ton Koopman, plays with consummate mastery of Couperin’s style. He caresses the notes, and shapes and moulds the phrases, adding just the right amount of silence, allowing the music to breathe. However, some tempi now seem a little slow.

In his recording, Pierlot augments the original instrumentation (two viols are specified in the 1728 edition) with harpsichord and plucked instruments (theorbo and guitar), creating a rich and varied tapestry of accompaniment. He brings, too, a greater sense of architecture to the music – but at a cost: what was magical has become, while technically superb (his version of ‘La chemise blanche’, in particular, is impressive), somewhat mundane.

Mikko Perkola (like Pierlot, once a pupil of that other great modern exponent of the viol, Wieland Kuijken) and the harpsichordist Aapo Häkkinen offer a beautifully paced alternative, resonant and reflective. They create a wonderful sense of intimacy in the Sarabande of the First Suite, Perkola artfully closing it with a gently strummed chord; the ‘Pompe funèbre’ in the A major Second Suite is beautifully thought through. Perkola occasionally lets his guard down, his tone quality suffering in both final movements. Häkkinen contributes a delightfully expressive performance of Couperin’s 27th Ordre to round off the CD. I, for one, will be returning to Savall’s seminal interpretation.

-- Julie Anne Sadie, Gramophone

More reviews:
https://www.amazon.com/Couperin-F-Pieces-Jordi-Savall/dp/B0090OPBYC
https://www.amazon.com/Couperin-Pieces-Violes-1728-Francois/dp/B00004R7PL

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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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Jordi Savall (born August 1, 1941) is a Catalan conductor, viol player, and composer. He has been one of the major figures in the field of Western early music since the 1970s, largely responsible for reviving the use of viol family instruments (notably the viola da gamba) in contemporary performance and recording. His characteristic repertoire features Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque music, and occasionally Classical and even Romantic periods. Savall's discography includes more than 100 recordings, on EMI Classics, Astrée, and his own label, Alia Vox.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jordi_Savall

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Ton Koopman (born 2 October 1944) is a Dutch conductor, organist, harpsichordist and a leading figure in the "authentic performance" movement. Koopman studied the organ with Simon C. Jansen, harpsichord with Gustav Leonhardt and musicology in Amsterdam. Koopman founded the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra in 1979 and the Amsterdam Baroque Choir in 1992, concentrates on Baroque music, especially that of Bach. Koopman has an extensive discography, among them is a complete cycle of all of Bach's cantatas, and has received many prizes for his recordings.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ton_Koopman
http://www.tonkoopman.nl/

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