Rameau's Pièces de clavecin en concerts were published in 1741, the idea for such pieces having been given to him by his younger contemporary, Mondonville, whose six sonatas for harpsichord with accompanying violin had appeared in 1734. But Rameau's pièces are altogether more ambitious and, indeed more truly 'ensemble' music even though the composer went to some pains to demonstrate that they could be performed on a solo harpsichord. They are organized into five suites, each movement of which contains a fully written out harpsichord part with additional parts for violin or flute, bass viol or second violin. These instruments, though ultimately subservient to the keyboard, are none the less afforded considerable independenceRead more and indulge in rewarding thematic interplay of a kind hardly envisaged by Mondonville.
Christophe Rousset has already distinguished himself on disc as a Rameau interpreter of great technical finesse and good taste. My expectations of this disc were, therefore, high. Thankfully, lam in no way disappointed by these performances though I regret the total banishment of the flute from Rameau's suggested ensemble. The flute seems to express the mood of some of these pieces so well yet I confess to having been won over by the violinist, Ryo Terakado and the bass violist, Kaori Uemura on this recording. Their playing is agile, warm-blooded and expressive and they listen carefully to what the harpsichord is doing which is of vital importance.
Rousset himself is impressive. The music breathes in his playing, he leans on the notes which call for it, thereby highlighting the subtle and discreet gestures inherent in the style. A beautiful example of this occurs in "La Boucon" from the second Concert; but there are many others too which assist in widening the expressive dimensions of the music. Unlike any other recording that I know of, Rousset includes the versions for solo harpsichord which Rameau provided in the 1741 publication in addition to the ensemble versions. Thus as well as having "La Livri", "L'agacante", "La timide" and "L'indiscrète" en concert we hear them as harpsichord solos, too. The idea strikes me as a good one; there is no feeling either of excess or redundancy and with playing of this order it is a considerable adornment. Only "L'indiscrète" sits tonally rather awkwardly beside "La Marais". I cannot see why it was appended to the Fifth Suite rather than incorporated into the Fourth where it rightfully belongs.
In short, this is playing which shows considerable insight to the music and which enlivens each and every movement sometimes with délicatesse at others with an almost startling vigour. These artists are up to all the tricks of the French baroque trade, so to speak, and the result is both illuminating and immensely enjoyable. Excellent recorded sound sets the seal on a very fine disc. Strongly recommended.
-- Gramophone [4/1993] reviewing the original release of this title Read less
Works on This Recording
Pièces de clavecin en concertsby Jean-Philippe Rameau
Kaori Uemura (Viola da gamba),
Christophe Rousset (Harpsichord),
Ryo Terakado (Violin)
Period: Baroque Written: by 1741; France