This CD is reissued by ArkivMusic.
Notes and Editorial Reviews
This recent import reissue of George Malcolm's 1965 L'Oiseau-Lyre (now Decca) Rameau keyboard cycle couldn't be more timely, especially for neophytes who simply want to hear these lovely, engaging, and important works. So many other recordings are unfortunately deleted. As it turns out though, Malcolm's cycle has held up remarkably well over the years regardless of the historically informed advances others have brought to this music in the meantime. No, Malcolm does not quite rival William Christie's high-brow elegance, nor will he overwhelm you with the flights of deft virtuosity Christophe Rousset often displays. What Malcolm does offer is a straightforward, no-nonsense account that's just as animated, articulate, and spirited as any of
the competition in or out of circulation.
The primary characteristic that distinguishes Malcolm's performance is the way he often places extra emphasis on Rameau's dotted rhythms to clarify passages, in turn heightening the step of the dance. For instance, the opening "Les Tricolets" of the G major suite is rendered with a stunning Glenn Gould-like transfixing precision. Malcolm's treatment of Rameau's notorious "Les Cyclopes" of the D minor suite is equally spellbinding--as dark, sharp, and sinister as it gets. Malcolm's choice of harpsichord auspiciously aids his approach; the unidentified instrument is much more intimate in scale than those used in every recording mentioned above. The action of its lower registers in particular often sounds like a slightly amplified clavichord.
Filling out most of Disc 2 are selections composed by Rameau's earlier contemporary François Couperin, recorded in 1969. While Malcolm's performances here are admittedly somewhat more foursquare and ultimately less exciting than his Rameau, they always are expertly crafted and feature many inspired moments. I especially enjoyed Malcolm's treatment of "Les Fauvettes plaintives" from Couperin's Third Book, his sly keyboard banter being as imaginative, humorous, and delightful as anyone's.
Decca's engineers effectively capture all of the sonic richness and clarity of Malcolm's harpsichords (while there's no information regarding this in the notes, it certainly sounds as if Malcolm employed a different, more substantial instrument in 1969). Those who enjoyed this artist's performances during the LP era surely will want to reacquaint themselves with these inspired and heartfelt readings. Others new to Rameau, Couperin, or the French Baroque in general would do well to consider this worthy edition.
--John Greene, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
La Dauphine by Jean-Philippe Rameau
George Malcolm (Harpsichord)
Written: 1747; France
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