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

Search MusicWeb Here
 

 

International mailing

  Founder: Len Mullenger              Founding Editor: Rob Barnett              Contact Seen and Heard here

Some items
to consider

  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
  • Mozart Flute Quartets
  • Schubert complete piano works
  • Sammartini: 6 Concerti grossi
  • Henze Kammermusik 1958
 
Tudor



CD and Blue-ray Audio


CD and Blue-ray Audio


CPE Bach Cantatas
a revelation


Biber: Sacred Choral Works
Don't miss it


Jonathan Dove


Tommie Haglund
Unique and Powerful music


Organ Fireworks


Highly Entertaining


A triumphant performance


Bruckner Symphony 4
One of the finest I have heard


A most joy-inducing recording


A winning partnership


A Lohengrin to treasure.

 


Support us financially by purchasing this from

François COUPERIN (1668-1733)
L'Apothéose de Lully [31:53]
Leçons de Ténèbres:
Première Leçon [15:47]
Deuxième Leçon [11:26]
Troisième Leçon [11:26]
Katherine Watson (soprano), Anna Dennis (soprano)
Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen (harpsichord)
rec. St. Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, March 2013 (Leçons), January 2014 (Apothéose)
HYPERION CDA68093 [70:35]

The L'Apothéose de Lully was, as the name suggests, Couperin’s piece composed in memory of Lully. This is the third recording I have of it. The instrumentation of the work is purely up to the performers. As the composer himself suggests, “can be played on two harpsichords as well as any other instruments”. The three discs I have display this perfectly. The first is a performance by William Christie and Christophe Rousset, Harmonia Mundi (HMC 901269)—as originally intended, on two harpsichords. On the second, on Sony (SBK 62941), the Kuijkens perform a chamber version, including violins, bass viol, cello, flute, recorder, oboe, bassoon and harpsichord. The present recording offers an in-between approach: just violins, viola da gamba, lute and harpsichord. All versions have their validity, although up to now I have found myself drawn more to the Christie and Rousset’s recording. This new version has a greater sense of clarity than the Kuijkens which comes from the use of strings alone. The lutenist, Thomas Dunford, deserves special mention; his phrasing adds colour to the performance. I also prefer Stéphane Degout as narrator. As a singer, he has a greater sense of musicality than Robert Kohnen for the Kuijkens. His voice also has a deeper timbre, giving his performance greater depth of feeling.

As with L'Apothéose de Lully, I now also have three versions of the Leçons de Ténèbres. My favourite is that by Sophie Daneman and Patricia Petibon, again led by William Christie, on Erato (0630-17067-2). Originally Couperin intended this to be a series of nine Leçons, three for each day of the Sacrum Triduum. Sadly he only managed to complete those for Le Mercredi Saint, or Maundy Thursday. These devotional works, an important part of the evening liturgy, were composed at the request of the Lady Nuns of Lxx (the abbey of Longchamp) sometime between 1713 and 1717. It has been suggested that Couperin had composed remaining six Leçons but failed to get them engraved, and they were subsequently lost.

The performance is good, and it makes an ideal companion to the L'Apothéose de Lully. For me, it does not eclipse the Christie performance. Sophie Daneman and Patricia Petibon have a greater purity than Katherine Watson and Anna Dennis, making theirs the recording I will return to most. I do prefer it, however, to my other version, also on Hyperion, by James Bowman and Michael Chance (CDH55455). That is a performance I never got on with. The countertenor voices do not suit the music, which was composed for women to sing, after all.

This recording, then, offers an elegant and well performed chamber version of the L'Apothéose de Lully, one up there with the best, and a recording of the Leçons de Ténèbres, that whilst very good and well performed, would not be my first choice. However, if you are coming to the Leçons anew and want a recording of the Apothéose, this could well be the recording for you. Performances throughout are very good. It is just my preference for the greater purity of the sung text that sways me towards the Christie. The booklet notes for this new Hyperion recording, which are also in French and German, are excellent, with full Latin texts given, but with only English translations.

Stuart Sillitoe



 

 




Gerard Hoffnung CDs

Advertising on
Musicweb



Donate and get a free CD

 

New Releases

Naxos Classical



Musicweb sells the following labels
Acte Préalable
(THE Polish label)
Altus 10% off
Atoll 10% off
CRD 10% off
Hallé 10% off
Lyrita 10% off
Nimbus 10% off
Nimbus Alliance
Prima voce 10% off
Red Priest 10% off
Retrospective 10% off
Saydisc 10% off
Sterling 10% off


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
Seen & Heard
Editor Emeritus
   Bill Kenny
Editor in Chief
   Vacant
MusicWeb Webmaster
   David Barker
MusicWeb Founder
   Len Mullenger