separated by a generation both the composers featured on this
Apex release were members of the French harpsichord school known
as ‘Les Clavecinistes’. Working in the seventeenth and eighteenth
centuries Les Clavecinistes flourished and achieved a refinement
of keyboard writing which was constantly admired and often imitated
outside their home country and was influential over the era of
the early pianoforte and beyond.
first began publishing his harpsichord works during the 1740s
at the time when the instrument’s prominence was becoming overshadowed
by the pianoforte and consequently became one of the last members
of the French harpsichord school. Born in Rouen into a family
with a fine music tradition Duphly held posts of organist at Evreux
Cathedral, St. Eloi and Notre Dame de la Ronde in Rouen before
leaving to settle in Paris in 1742 were he earned his living as
a harpsichord teacher.
Duphly’s surviving works are harpsichord compositions and not
surprisingly reflect a strong influence of Jean-Philippe Rameau.
His four books of harpsichord works published between 1744 to
1768 are a marvellous legacy from the composer and reflect changing
developments in keyboard music in France during that time.
harpsichordist Jos van Immerseel expertly performs the selection
of eleven Duphly works and seems perfectly suited to the composer’s
melodic keyboard writing which on the surface seems to be simple
and clear yet contains many testing virtuoso passages. In La
Pothouin van Immerseel finds the required blend of grace and
agility in this rich and elegant work and in La Forqueray
he confidently provides the melodic mood in a delicate and tender
fashion. Van Immerseel’s instrument has a crisp tone and
a fine presence without ever sounding over-bright.
in Thionville in 1689 the details of Joseph Bodin de Boismortier’s
early life are extremely sketchy. It is known that he relocated
to Paris in 1724 and in the years that followed published over
one hundred works in various genres which it is said provided
him with enormous wealth. Maybe owing to envy the music establishment
judged him harshly and he was frequently reproached for writing
too many popular and facile works for financial reasons.
Boulay is the harpsichordist for the selection of five of the
compositions that were published in 1736. As with the Duphly works
all Boismortier’s pieces are given titles as was the custom of
the day. Boulay is clearly a skilled performer and gives a fine
account of these works making them sound uncomplicated and melodic,
playing with a most subtle touch which seems highly appropriate.
The soloist makes fine work of the contrasting styles of the light
gavotte La Transalpine and the more serious sarabande La
harpsichord that Boulay has chosen has a slight metallic sounding
reverberation but this proves to be not too unpleasant. Furthermore
there is some noise from the mechanics of the instrument which
seems more noticeable than those from the harpsichord used by
Jos van Immerseel.
Apex recording reuses material previously released in 1976 from
the Erato label however there is little sign of age in the interpretations.
The booklet notes are typically brief yet interesting although
there are no details about the performers. I do consider that
in the days of 80 minute plus CDs for Apex to offer a measly 58
minutes, even at budget price is rather pushing it.
appealing and most melodic selection of rare French harpsichord
works, expertly performed with a very decent sound. Highly recommendable