Notes and Editorial Reviews
"From the opening measures of Le Verneüil (18th Ordre), I sensed that here was a performer with an innate feeling for Couperin. Dirst is able to find the exact expressive center of each piece—the Affekt—and deliver it in a neat package. The building blocks of Couperin’s music are fairly simple, mostly melody with accompaniment in the bass, but there is tremendous variety within that framework. I found myself shaking my head in agreement with nearly every one of Dirst’s interpretative choices, from the tender Soeur Monique of the 18th Ordre, to the concluding grand passacaille L’Amphibie of the 24th Ordre.
The music of François’s second cousin, Armand-Louis Couperin (1727–89), is not well represented on CD.
Considering the late vintage I expected music firmly entrenched in the galant style, but instead the music sounds like it was written some 30 or 40 years earlier, rather like a pale imitation of François le grand. Pleasant enough stuff, but I would have preferred more of the real deal.
The presence of a John Phillips harpsichord on a CD is usually a guarantee of an idiomatic, excellent-sounding instrument, and his copy of a two-manual Nicholas Dumont harpsichord of 1707 lives up to expectations. Likewise for veteran engineer Peter Nothnagle: His recordings are unfailingly rich and detailed. As with so many harpsichord recordings nowadays, the level is unrealistically high—you hear the instrument as if you were standing two feet away from it. The simple solution is to turn down the volume control, but I confess that it’s fun at times to turn up the volume and wallow in the gutsy sound—symphonic harpsichord, if you will. Recommended."
FANFARE: Christopher Brodersen
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