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La Famille Forqueray - Portraits
Antoine FORQUERAY (1672-1745)
Prélude non Mesuré in D Minor [1.16]
Jean-Baptiste FORQUERAY (1699-1782)
Première Suite in D Minor [23:21]
François COUPERIN (1668–1733)
Troisième Livre De Pièces De Clavecin Ordre XVII: La Superbe ou la Forqueray [5:12]
Antoine FORQUERAY (1672-1745)
Suite pour trois violes (transcr. harpsichord Justin Taylor) [10:58]
Jacques DUPHLY (1715-1789)
Troisième Livre De Pièces De Clavecin: La Forqueray [4.48]
Jean-Baptiste FORQUERAY (1699-1782)
Cinquième Suite in C Minor [33:31]
Justin Taylor (harpsichord: Ruckers-Hemsch 1636-1763)
rec. Notre Dame des Secours, Paris, March 2016
ALPHA CLASSICS 247 [79.15]

This CD excites on several levels. It is a first recording for the young (from the photograph, very young) French (born in Angers) harpsichordist, Justin Taylor, clearly a player of immense talent and musical sensitivity – the sensitivity which put musical values of clarity and authentic interpretation above mere display.

As a choice of repertoire, this CD takes us to the heart of the French baroque and the Forqueray family, who were at its centre. Their reputation suffers partly because so many works have been lost. Antoine, father of the dynasty, was best known for his dramatic, even brash, playing of the viol, a contrast with Marin Marais, who was also at the French court. His reputation as a player, and distinctive style, inspired musical tributes from Rameau, Couperin and Dunphy, two of which (not Rameau), can be heard on the present disc. Of more than 300 works, only 32, edited by Jean-Baptiste, survive.

The storminess of his playing style seems to have carried over into his personal relationships. His marriage to a harpsichordist broke up. His son, Jean-Baptiste, was an infant prodigy, and, like his father, principally a violist. When he transcribed some of his viol pieces for harpsichord, he did not transpose, so much of the music lies quite low on the instrument. He seems also to have been fiery – the music has a passion to it. It must have been the stuff of soap opera in that household. Antoine had Jean-Baptiste imprisoned as a teenager, and in 1725, exiled by lettre de cachet, which got round the boring need for either trial or defence.

There is little difference in style between father and son, but questions arise about the extent to which Antoine’s pieces are his own – did the Jean-Baptiste edition amount to rewriting and even the use of his father’s name to publish his own work? No matter: when presented as persuasively as on this CD, we have music of character, great variety, interest and depth, splendidly played. The fine instrument helps, but the prize goes to Justin Taylor for his thoughtful and sometimes muscular playing. He captures very well the sense of quicksilver emotions.

There is an alternative recording of five suites by Jean-Baptiste by Michael Borgstede on Brilliant Classics, including Suites 1 and 4 on a 2CD set from Brilliant Classics (Brilliant 94108), and a similar set from Ketil Haugsand (Simax PSC1317), but the new one is, for me, finer than either.

Michael Wilkinson



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