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Couperin: Keyboard Suites / Christophe Rousset

Couperin / Rousset
Release Date: 08/10/2010 
Label:  Aparte   Catalog #: 6   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset
Number of Discs: 2 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 48 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews



L. COUPERIN Harpsichord Suites: in F, g, C, c, d, a Christophe Rousset (hpd) APARTÉ 006 (2 CDs: 108:29)


Despite his latter-day reputation as one of the foremost 17th-century French composers for the harpsichord, precious little is known about the life of Louis Couperin (c.1626–61). The first 20 years are shrouded in obscurity; the remainder of his life is a bit better in focus, although Couperin’s life story will never be the inspiration for a Hollywood movie the way other composers’ lives (Marais, Read more Vivaldi, Handel) have been. Unlike his brothers François I and Charles and his famous nephew, François II le Grand , Louis never held an official court position as harpsichordist. Rather, he was content to spend his entire career playing treble viol in the court orchestra (“ordinaire de la musique de chambre”), a position that brought little money and no recognition. The story goes that after many years, Louis was finally offered the job of court harpsichordist. The previous royal harpsichordist, Chambonnières, had been sent packing, thanks to the devious doings of the evil Lully. Out of loyalty to his beloved mentor Chambonnières, however, Louis refused the job, only to die a short time later.


Like his brothers and nephew, Louis Couperin was also an organist—he held the coveted job of chief organist at the church of St. Gervais in Paris for the last eight years of his life. Perhaps this was the sort of job that suited him, away from the political dealings at court. None of Louis’s organ and harpsichord music was published during his lifetime, and the fact that more than 122 pieces have survived in the famous Bauyn Manuscript is something of a miracle. Louis’s music is quite a bit more soulful and introspective than that of his contemporaries, the most important feature being the unmeasured prelude that begins every suite, a genre that he can claim to have invented, or at least perfected. Another characteristic form is the chaconne or passacaille (the terms are almost interchangeable), a compositional form beloved by nearly every French harpsichord composer, none more so than François le Grand.


Arguably the most gifted harpsichordist of his generation, Christophe Rousset has been absent from the recording studio for far too long. Sure, he’s been making records, but most of his energies have been devoted lately to conducting his outstanding group Les Talens Lyriques. There have been a few tantalizing reissues: James A. Altena reviewed Rousset’s recordings of Bach’s French and English Suites, last seen in 2005, in Fanfare 34:2. A brand-new, previously unreleased harpsichord recital from Rousset is a major event, especially when he tackles a composer for the first time, as he does here.


Surprisingly, there are no complete recordings of the harpsichord music of Louis Couperin currently in the catalog. But the generous sampling on the present two-CD set should satisfy all but the most voracious appetites. Rousset has a reputation for being a speed demon, but in this music he is relaxed and in control, even rather gentle when called for. The term “unmeasured prelude” is somewhat misleading; as Rousset points out in his liner notes, just because there are no bar lines doesn’t mean that one must play haphazardly. Restrained stateliness, along with a watchful eye toward the strong and weak beats, are the order of the day, and Rousset is the undisputed master.


The choice of harpsichord is noteworthy. The 1658 double-manual instrument of Louis Denis is only one of a handful of 17th-century French instruments that have come down to us. It may be, in fact, the oldest French harpsichord in existence, and it is in largely unaltered condition. Unlike the lush sonorities of a typical 18th-century French harpsichord, the Denis produces a dry, gesticulating, almost acerbic sound that may take some getting used to. But it works remarkably well in unraveling the complex strands of Couperin’s music. The recorded sound is a bit close up, but careful adjustment of the volume control will ensure realistic playback.


This release may not be for everybody, but for devotees of French harpsichord music, it is well-nigh indispensable.


FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
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Works on This Recording

1. Prélude for harpsichord in F major (Pièces de clavecin, No. 13) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 38 Secs. 
2. Pièces de clavecin: no 66, Allemande in F major by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 55 Secs. 
3. Courante for harpsichord in F major (Pièces de clavecin, No. 68) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 2 Secs. 
4. Sarabande for harpsichord in F major (Pièces de clavecin, No. 72) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 12 Secs. 
5. Pièces de clavecin: no 73, Branle le Basque by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 0 Minutes 34 Secs. 
6. Gigue for harpsichord in F major (Pièces de clavecin, No. 76) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 26 Secs. 
7. Gaillarde for harpsichord in F major (Pièces de clavecin, No. 77) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 39 Secs. 
8. Pièces de Clavecin: no 78, Chaconne in F major by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1713; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 46 Secs. 
9. Pièces de clavecin: no 81, Tombeau pour Mr. de Blancrocher in F major by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1660; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 8 Minutes 8 Secs. 
10. Prélude for harpsichord in G minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 3) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 3 Minutes 39 Secs. 
11. Pièces de clavecin: no 93, Allemande in G minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 4 Minutes 24 Secs. 
12. Courante for harpsichord in G minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 94) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 29 Secs. 
13. Sarabande for harpsichord in G minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 95) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 18 Secs. 
14. Passacaille for harpsichord in G minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 98) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 4 Minutes 39 Secs. 
15. Prélude for harpsichord in C major (Pièces de clavecin, No. 10) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 46 Secs. 
16. Pièces de clavecin: no 15, Allemande in C major by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 6 Secs. 
17. Courante for harpsichord in C major (Pièces de clavecin, No. 18) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 24 Secs. 
18. Sarabande for harpsichord in C major (Pièces de clavecin, No. 24) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 15 Secs. 
19. Passacaille for harpsichord in C major (Pièces de clavecin, No. 27) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 5 Minutes 13 Secs. 
20. Prélude for harpsichord in C minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 128) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 11 Secs. 
21. Pièces de clavecin: no 30, Allemande la precieuse in C minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 51 Secs. 
22. Courante for harpsichord in C minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 31) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 42 Secs. 
23. Sarabande for harpsichord in C minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 32) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 44 Secs. 
24. Gigue for harpsichord in C minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 33) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 43 Secs. 
25. Pièces de clavecin: no 34, Chaconne la bergeronette in C minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 0 Secs. 
26. Prélude for harpsichord in D minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 1) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 5 Minutes 31 Secs. 
27. Pièces de clavecin: no 35, Allemande in D minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 3 Minutes 21 Secs. 
28. Courante for harpsichord in D minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 38) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 14 Secs. 
29. Sarabande for harpsichord in D minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 56) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 3 Minutes 46 Secs. 
30. Pièces de clavecin: no 52, Canaries in D minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 0 Minutes 58 Secs. 
31. Volte, for harpsichord in D minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 53) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 0 Minutes 44 Secs. 
32. Pièces de clavecin: no 54, La pastourelle in D minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 0 Minutes 48 Secs. 
33. Pièces de clavecin: no 55, Chaconne in D minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 2 Minutes 43 Secs. 
34. Pièces de clavecin: no 6, Prélude à l'imitation de Mr. Froberger in A minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1650; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 6 Minutes 18 Secs. 
35. Pièces de clavecin: no 101, Allemande l'amiable in A minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 3 Minutes 2 Secs. 
36. Pièces de clavecin: no 105, Courante La Mignone in A minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 19 Secs. 
37. Sarabande for harpsichord in A minor (Pièces de clavecin, No. 109) by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 3 Minutes 18 Secs. 
38. Pièces de clavecin: no 102, La Piémontoise in A minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 1 Minutes 33 Secs. 
39. Pièces de Clavecin: no 120, Pavane in F sharp minor by Louis Couperin
Performer:  Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: 1713; France 
Date of Recording: 07/2009 
Venue:  Musée ed Neuchâtel 
Length: 8 Minutes 46 Secs. 

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