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Carlos de SEIXAS [1704-1742]
Sonata no. 8 in C major [6:45]
Sonata no. 50 in G minor [2:50]
Sonata no. 16 in C minor [6:41]
Sonata no. 59 in A major [7:16]
Jean-Philippe RAMEAU [1683-1764]
Premier livre de pièces de clavecin: Sarabandes I & II [3:08], Venitienne [2:13]
Deuxième livre de pièces de clavecin: L’Entretien des Muses [4:53], Musette en Rondeau [2:21], 2 Rigaudons & Double du 2me Rigaudon [1:49], Timbourin [1:31], La Villageoise, rondeau [2:50], Les Tendres Plaintes, rondeau [2:49], Les Niais de Sologne [2:44], 1er Double des Niais [1:43], 2me Double des Niais [2:26]
Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin: L’Egyptienne [3:01]
François COUPERIN [1668-1733]
Treizième ordre: L’Engagente [4:13], Les Rozeaux [4:55]
Deuxième ordre: Les Canaries, Double des Canaries [3:32], La Voluptueuse [3:07]
Quatrième ordre: Le Réveille-Matin [2:51]
Sixième ordre: Les Barricades Mystérieuses [2:30]
Mariko Terashi (piano)
rec. 2016 Sagamiko Koryu Centre, Kanagawa, Japan
ATHENE ATH23207 [76:11]

Japanese-born Mariko Terashi studied in France but has lived in the UK since 1995. She has a demanding concert career, performing both as a soloist and in several chamber ensembles. The advertising blurb for this present CD explains that “she is particularly interested in piano adaptations of harpsichord music of the 17th and 18th centuries” and has been described as “offering fresh insights into the music” and as displaying “tremendous emotional depth”.

I have always preferred my Baroque music played on the piano. Purists will not doubt raise their hands in horror. But it is true. Ever since struggling at the piano with Bach’s easier keyboard pieces and Handel’s Suites, I have loved the sound of this instrument for this music. My favourite version of the Bach English and French Suites is Angela Hewitt on Hyperion and Andreas Schiff on Decca for the ‘48’ - both piano versions. So, it will come as no surprise that I thoroughly enjoyed the music presented on this CD. I am not familiar with all the pieces recorded here, although I have come across a few of them in piano anthologies – both printed and recorded. For me, the sheer vibrancy of all these numbers, whether joyful or sad is a revelation. Like so much in life, I say to myself, if I had my life over again I would devote more time to this enjoyable music ...

François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau are the two great stars of the 18th century French keyboard school. Couperin wrote much music for the harpsichord, the organ and for chamber ensembles. A glance at the titles in the track listing suggests that he was adept at writing what we now call ‘programme music’ or at least pieces with fanciful titles. Included on this CD are ‘portraits’ of ‘A Very Engaging Person’, ‘The Reeds’, ‘Canaries’ and ‘The Alarm Clock’. These sound remarkably well here and certainly create an engaging and often timeless musical picture of their subjects. Couperin wrote some 27 Orderes (Suites) with more than 220 individual pieces. There is a lot to explore. Rameau was well-regarded in his day for his operas, including Castor and Pollux and a major treatise on harmony. He wrote relatively little for harpsichord: there are some 53 pieces for keyboards of various types. He shows a greater attachment to the ‘baroque’ suite than Couperin. Rameau is content to compose ‘Sarabandes’, ‘Rigaudons’ and ‘Musettes’, sometimes adding-in more picturesque titles such as ‘Meeting with the Muses’ and ‘The Village Girl’. I think that Rameau transfers to the piano with the greatest of ease.

Carlos Seixas (1704–1742) was one of the greatest Portuguese keyboard composers of the 18th century. Most of his works are for harpsichord, organ or clavichord: apparently there are some 700 sonatas, of which a ‘mere’ 104 or so have survived. Owing much to his probable teacher Domenico Scarlatti, Seixas moved the sonata ‘project’ forward in development by introducing ‘second subjects.’ Often the working out of the sonatas displays great contrast in thematic material as well as a studied balance between the movements. I guess that some of Seixas’s music is less flamboyant than that of Scarlatti: he sometimes avoids technical display in favour of simplicity, depth and spicy harmony. Yet virtuosity is also here, as is well displayed in the delightfully wayward Sonata no.50. Two of these sonatas (no.8 and no. 59) are composed in three-movement form, with the other two (no.16 and no. 50) being single movements. It could be argued that Seixas’s style was moving steadily from the baroque to the classical world and is often a fusion of both contrapuntal and harmonic styles.

Mariko Terashi explains in her notes that she has gone back to the original manuscripts of much of this music to gain a greater understanding of each composer’s original intentions on performance and ornamentation. Terashi insists that this ornamentation is not just ‘decoration’ but the ‘essence’ of the interpretation of this music.

The booklet is excellent, with an introduction and notes by Mariko Terashi. Each composer is given a brief biographical setting; there is, however, no detailed discussion or assessment of the music.

The recording of this wonderful music is splendid, revealing with great clarity all the harmonic, contrapuntal and decorative detail. I do hope that Mariko Terashi will continue her explorations of this Baroque music presented for the piano.

John France

 



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