Couperin seems to be making a pianistic splash lately, what with Angela Hewitt's excellent Hyperion recitals, and now this marvelous new release from Alexandre Tharaud. Playing Couperin on the piano certainly entails a certain "authenticity" in the wider sense, since back in the good old Baroque days this music would be adapted to whatever keyboard instruments happened to be on hand, despite the fact that it was clearly imagined for the harpsichord. In fact, the music sounds excellent on the modern grand, and quite different than you might expect.
The very opening, Les baricades mistérieuses, has a dark warmth of coloration utterly different from the sonority theRead more harpsichord can produce. The music truly sounds "modern", particularly harmonically, almost like a Chopin prelude. In his booklet notes, Tharaud claims that the final piece, an encore in the form of Duphly's La Pothouïn, foreshadows Schumann, but much of this music would not sound out of place in the Romantic era.
Tharaud's selection of pieces, as intelligent as it is characterful, gives a superb sense of Couperin's gifts. From the more abstract movements, such as the Passacaille from 8th Ordre, to the sensitively overdubbed delights of Muséte de taverni (and not forgetting the colorful percussive additions to Bruit de guerre), you will find a remarkable range of mood and expression.
For my money, the gentle humor of Le dodo and the evocative sonorities of Le carillon de Cithére all project more successfully on the piano than on the harpsichord. But then, Tharaud deserves the lion's share of the credit in that he never tries to make his instrument sound like its predecessor. He uses the pedals poetically but with discretion, and he exploits the piano's wide dynamic range very effectively to bring out contrapuntal detail or to highlight some particularly interesting harmony or inner voice. In short, he has selected a 20-item program in which the piano's resources can be fully exploited in service of the music, and that's just what you hear for 65 delightful minutes. The gorgeous sonics, warm but crystal clear, complete an irresistible package.
Pièces de clavecin, Book 2 (Couperin): Ordre 6 - Les baricades mistérieuses
Pièces de clavecin, Book 3 (Couperin): Ordre 18 - Le tic-toc-choc ou Les maillotins
Pièces de clavecin, Book 4 (Couperin): Ordre 23 - Les tricoteuses
Average Customer Review: ( 2 Customer Reviews )
New out of oldOctober 19, 2017By Linda M. (Vancouver, WA)See All My Reviews"All these pieces were new to me except for the one I had bought the CD for. Easy to listen to. Great recording. I bought it to hear Mysterious Barricades over and over again. That one piece is enchanting to me."Report Abuse
Fluid, sensitive interpretationMay 23, 2012By B. Gerwin (Lethbridge, AB)See All My Reviews"I sought out this album after my 1 1/2-year-old son and I were both struck silent, enchanted by the delicate, bell-like track "Le Carillon de Cithére" on the radio. Tharaud is a captivating performer, and the selections from Couperin's harpsichord compositions resonate beautifully on the piano."Report Abuse