MusicWeb International One of the most grown-up review sites around

  2022
 58,121 reviews
   and more ... and still writing ...

Search MusicWeb Here
Acte Prealable Polish CDs

Presto Music CD retailer
 
Founder: Len Mullenger                                    Editor in Chief:John Quinn             

Some items
to consider

 

paid for
advertisements

Acte Prealable Polish recordings

Forgotten Recordings
Forgotten Recordings
All Forgotten Records Reviews


TROUBADISC
Troubadisc Weinberg- TROCD01450

100th birthday of Mieczyslaw Weinberg on December 8, 2019.
Renate Eggbrecht has recorded all 3 violin Sonatas
All Troubadisc reviews


FOGHORN Classics

Alexandra-Quartet
Brahms String Quartets

All Foghorn Reviews


All HDTT reviews


Clarissa Bevilacqua plays
Augusta Read Thomas

all Nimbus reviews

Brahms Dvorak
Brahms 2 Dvorak 7
all tudor reviews

 

 


Follow us on Twitter

Subscribe to our free weekly review listing
sample

Sample: See what you will get

Editorial Board
MusicWeb International
Founding Editor
   
Rob Barnett
Editor in Chief
John Quinn
Contributing Editor
Ralph Moore
Webmaster
   David Barker
Postmaster
Jonathan Woolf
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger

 

Discs for review may be sent to:
Jonathan Woolf
76 Lushes Road
Loughton
Essex IG10 3QB
United Kingdom

jonathan_woolf@yahoo.co.uk


 

REVIEW Plain text for smartphones & printers

Support us financially by purchasing this from

The French Harpsichord
Felix Ardanaz (harpsichord)
rec. 2010, details of venue not provided
ORPHEUS OR3906-1811 [70:20]

I enjoy French baroque music immensely and have discs of harpsichord music by all the composers presented here. I was therefore looking forward to listening to this well filled and attractively packaged disc. It offers the listener, on paper at least, a good introduction to the keyboard music of the period. As an introduction it works well, although for me the order and choice of the pieces presented is a bit questionable. It opens with a series of relatively slow pieces, two of them in minor keys. This does not grab the listener and hold his or her attention. This is a shame as overall what we have here is a nicely performed recital, just badly planned.

The disc opens with a Pavane from the first really important member of the Couperin family. Louis Couperin was the first of the seven members of the Couperin family — The French answer to the Bach dynasty — to hold the honoured position of organist at the Church Saint-Gervais in Paris. The Pavane is played here a little slowly for my liking, especially when you consider that Skip Sempé manages it in just over six minutes (Alpha 066), with this new version hardly serving to draw the listener in. On the plus side, it is a bit quicker than Christophe Rousset’s performance (Aparte AP006), but not by much.

Next comes the D’Anglebert, a composer known to have been an influence on J.S. Bach. The Prelude is played well enough, though I do prefer Rousset’s interpretation (458 588-2). Its inclusion just begs the question of why only the Prelude. After all D’Anglebert has often been described as the most notable French keyboard composer before François Couperin.

François Couperin is arguably the greatest of all French harpsichord composers, if not baroque keyboard composers in general. One has only has to look at his four great books, or Livre de Pieces de Clavecin, to see this. So to include L’art de toucher le clavecin is very interesting, or it would be if Felix Ardanaz had included the final piece, the D minor Allemande. Its omission is baffling. Christophe Rousset performs the piece in 1:21 in his magnificent set of the complete harpsichord works (HMX 2901442.52), and it is not as if there wasn’t enough time to include it on the disc.

One of the greatest keyboard virtuosi of his day, Louis Marchand tends to be remembered for the scandals he became embroiled in or the harpsichord competition with J.S. Bach when he fled Dresden before Bach’s arrival, rather than play his music. The Chaconne, from the composer’s first book of harpsichord pieces, fully displays Marchand’s ability as a composer, with its intricate ornamentations pointing to his prowess. I prefer this performance to that by Huguette Grémy-Chauliac (FYCD 055), who shaves nearly a minute off that of Ardanaz, and as a result sounds a little too rushed in comparison.

Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre was something of a child prodigy and gave her first performance before Louis XIV before she was about five years old. She went on to live in the house of Madame de Montespan, the King’s favourite, so that she could perform before the court. The booklet notes refer to her Suite of pieces from 1707, although the pieces here are clearly from the earlier Suite in D minor which dates from 1687. Here again, the Suite is incomplete. Carole Cersi, in her wonderful recording of the Suite (Met CD 1026) includes eight pieces rather than the five presented here. Why are those other three pieces omitted?

For many people Jean-Philippe Rameau is the epitome of the French baroque, and I would probably include myself in that number. He made great strides in the development of keyboard music in France and even had his own harpsichord adapted. It’s a pity that he is represented here by just the one short, but wonderful piece.

Antoine Forqueray is another giant of French harpsichord music, although you wouldn’t believe it from the recordings available. Both Luc Beauséjour (8.553407) and Sophie Yates (CHAN 0545) only present the final four movements of the fifth suite. Here Ardanaz gives us the full seven movement suite, and should be applauded for that fact alone. He then goes on to give a wonderful performance.

The disc ends with La de Drummond, a short piece from Jacques Duphly’s Fourth Book of harpsichord pieces. Dying at the beginning of the French Revolution, Duphly is often regarded as the last of the French harpsichord composers. In an echo of the demise of the royal court, the patronage, so important in the development of French music disappeared. In the hands of Ardanaz the piece sounds much more tender and charming than in the recording by Jean-Patrice Brosse (PV704031) where comes across as a lively affair.

This is a good introduction to French harpsichord music, but as highlighted, I do question the inclusions of the majority of suites of music but not the complete work. That being said, this is a good disc, especially if you can get past the slow, minor key pieces at the start the disc. The performances by Ardanaz are good overall with some very fine playing at times, although I still think that Christophe Rousset is the man to beat in this repertoire. The harpsichord sounds a fine instrument and is recorded well. The notes are good, apart from the error highlighted above.

Stuart Sillitoe

Contents
Louis COUPERIN (1626-1661)
Pavane in F sharp minor [8:30]
Jean-Henri D’ANGLEBERT (1629-1691)
Suite No. 3 in D minor: Prelude [4:18]
François COUPERIN (1668-1733)
L’art de toucher le clavecin (The art of playing the harpsichord) (1716)
1. Prelude I in C Major [1:13]
2. Prelude II in D minor [1:31]
3. Prelude III in G minor [0:59]
4. Prelude IV in F Major [1:25]
5. Prelude V in A Major [2:28]
6. Prelude VI in D minor [1:29]
7. Prelude VII in B Flat Major [2:24]
8. Prelude VIII in E minor [1:16]
Louis MARCHAND (1669-1732)
Chaconne in D minor [4:14]
Elisabeth Jacquet de la GUERRE (1665-1729)
Suite No. 1 in D minor
1. Prelude [2:27]
2. Allemande [3:19]
3. Courante [2:02]
4. Sarabande [3:25]
5. Gigue [2:14]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1702-1766)
La Dauphine (1747) [3:01]
Antoine FORQUERAY (1681-1757)
Suite No. 5 in C minor
1. La Rameau. Majesteusement [3:35]
2. La Guignon. Vivement et détaché [4:32]
3. La Léon. Sarabande [3:36]
4. La Boisson. Vivement, les pinches bien soutenus [4:22]
5. La Montigni. Galamment sans lenteur [3:31]
6. La Sylva. Très tendrement [4:53]
7. Jupiter. Modérément [4:42]
Jacques DUPHLY (1715-1789)
La de Drummond [3:51]

 

 



Advertising on
Musicweb


Donate and keep us afloat

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical
All Naxos reviews

Chandos recordings
All Chandos reviews

Hyperion recordings
All Hyperion reviews

Foghorn recordings
All Foghorn reviews

Troubadisc recordings
All Troubadisc reviews


all cpo reviews

Divine Art recordings
Click to see New Releases
Get 10% off using code musicweb10
All Divine Art reviews


All APR reviews

Lyrita recordings
All Lyrita Reviews

 

Wyastone New Releases
Obtain 10% discount

Recordings of the Month

November 2022
Bach
Bach Orchestral Suites

del Cinque
Del Cinque Cello sonatas

Fujita Mozart
Mao Fujita Mozart

Stanczyk
Stanczyk Acousmatic Music

Oropesa

October 2022

Berg Violin Concerto
Violin Concerto Elmes

DEbussy Jeux
Debussy Jeux

Romantic pioano masters
Romantic Piano Masters

The future is female - Vol 2
Volume 2 - The Dance

impromptu harp music
Complete Harp Impromptus