Jean-Philippe RAMEAU (1683-1764)
Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts
Apotheosis/Korneel Bernolet (harpsichord)
rec. AMUZ Antwerpen, Belgium, 20-22 July 2015
ETCETERA KTC1523 [66:28]

I have tried very hard to like this recording of the Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts, my favourite of all Rameau’s instrumental pieces, but up to now I have failed. This has nothing to do with the performance which I greatly enjoyed. It has everything to do with the performers presenting the music as a flute trio rather than the usual trio. I am afraid the inclusion of a flute just does not work.

The Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts date from 1741 and can be described as a precursor to the piano trio. Its blend of violin, viola da gamba and harpsichord is a perfect synthesis of what was to become popular in the Classical and Romantic periods. There have been a number of very fine recordings in the past, not least that by Rachel Podger, Jonathan Manson and Trevor Pinnock on Channel Classics (19002). I would also single out for praise the version by Ryo Terakado, Kaori Uemura and Christophe Rousset on Harmonia Mundi (HMX 2901418). The latter not only offer the listener a first rate rendition of the trio parts, but also serve up the added bonus of the solo harpsichord pieces. These are not included in the Channel Classics recording.

This new recording by Apotheosis, directed from the harpsichord by Korneel Bernolet, plays around with the music too much for me. They include four pieces from Les indes galantes which have been arranged by Bernolet for inclusion here. That's fine; it's the arrangements of the trio pieces that I find irksome. I feel that the inclusion of the flute adds nothing attractive to the overall effect; rather I find it distracting. This is a real shame as when the group perform the trio sections as composed they give an excellent performance, one up there with the best. I just wish that they didn’t keep spoiling it by adding a flute.

The recorded sound is fine and the notes are informative. However, despite putting the argument forward for replacing the violin with a flute, something which Bernolet backs up with Rameau’s own assertion, I am afraid that I will always return to my favourite performances of this work — those without a flute.

Stuart Sillitoe

Full Contents
Deuxième concert
1 Ouverture [2:50]
2 La Laborde [4:07]
3 La Boucon [4:07]
4 L’Agaçante [2:34]
5 Menuets [4:32]
Quatrième concert
6 La Pantomime [3:23]
7 L’Indiscrète [1:37]
8 La Rameau [3:07]
Cinquième concert
9 Ritournelle du Turc généreux [1:05]
10 La Forqueray [4:26]
11 La Cupis [4:20]
12 La Marais [2:40]
Premier concert
13 Ritournelle des Incas du Perou [1:35]
14 La Coulicam [3:38]
15 La Livri [3:29]
16 Le Vézinet [2:37]
Troisième concert
17 La Lapoplinière [3:05]
18 La Timide [5:06]
19 Tambourins [2:17]
20 Chaconne [5:54]

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