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Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Pièces de Clavecin (1724) [58:45]
La Dauphine (1747) [4:40]
Nouvelles Suites de Pièces de Clavecin (1728) [74:09]
Blandine Rannou (harpsichord)
rec. 28 July-10 August 2000, Lycée Carnot, Dijon, France
ALPHA CLASSICS 309 [63:25 + 74:09]

This pair of CDs was originally released as part of a four disc set on Zig-Zag Territoires (ZZT 010301.4). That set also contained the complete original compositions for the harpsichord. It included the Pièces de Clavecin (1706) and a complete version of the Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts (1724); only the composer's own transcriptions of some of his theatre music were missing. The present set offers the listener what many regard as the two main collections from 1724 and 1728. It is to be hoped that the rest of the music will be reissued as part of this series.

The first disc presents the earlier of the two collections and concludes with La Dauphine. The booklet fails to discriminate between the two Suites contained within the Pièces: the first in E Minor/Major, the second in D Minor/Major, with La Dauphine seemingly an integral part of the collection. Blandine Rannou’s interpretation is somewhat slow and measured. She also changes the order of some of the movements. This was at one time the norm with interpreters differing greatly in the order in which they presented the pieces.

The Nouvelles Suites de Pièces de Clavecin is again made up of two suites: A Minor/Major and G Major/Minor. The booklet yet again glosses over this fact presenting the pieces as part of the one grand suite. Here Rannou is if anything a bit slower, with the opening Allemande being nearly four minutes longer than Gilbert Rowland’s performance on Naxos (8.553048), a recording for which, along with its companion disc (8.553047), I have always had a soft spot. Here I tend to disagree with some commentators, including Nicolas Anderson, who dismisses Rannou's interpretation of this piece as “navel contemplation”. It is good to have a view which differs from what we have come to expect.

Overall, I enjoyed this performance even if it is over-long in places. This allows Blandine Rannou’s virtuosity and poise to shine through. Yes, I would still choose Christophe Rousset’s excellent recording (Oiseau Lyre 425 886-2, nla) to play first if only for sheer exuberance. He is even quicker than Rowland in the Allemande, but Rannou's performance enables the listener to encounter to this music anew.   The recording is good. My only real gripe is in regard to the booklet notes. I must admit to not being a fan of the ‘artist interview’ which is what we get here. I much prefer information about the music, which the present booklet alludes to being available on the Alpha website. I looked there but failed to find it.

Stuart Sillitoe


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