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Music From The Age Of Louis XV / John Kitchen


Release Date: 02/12/2013 
Label:  Delphian   Catalog #: 34112   Spars Code: DDD 
Composer:  François CouperinAntoine ForquerayJean-Philippe RameauJacques Duphly
Performer:  John Kitchen
Number of Discs: 1 
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Notes and Editorial Reviews

MUSIC FROM THE AGE OF LOUIS XV John Kitchen (hpd) DELPHIAN 34112 (66: 26)


COUPERIN Ordre 6 in Bb. FORQUERAY La Du Breül; La Leclair. La Léon. La Boisson. RAMEAU La Triomphante. Fanfarinette. Les Sauvages. L’Enharmoniqu. L’Egyptienne. DUPHLY La Forqueray. Medée
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The title of this disc evokes the rather stratified, frivolous, and perhaps even decadent court society of Louis XV, a period in French music when chamber music was at its peak in the palaces and salons of the ancient régime . Pieces for harpsichord were published willy-nilly, some in various suites or ordres , some as groups of titled movements that evoked either homage or an inside joke, and composers such as François Couperin and Antoine Forqueray made their reputations based upon their skill at such evocative pieces. The second generation, represented on this disc by Jean-Philippe Rameau and Jacques Duphly, continued the practice, despite the fact that musical styles were rapidly changing and that such carefully constructed and intimate works were hardly in vogue among audiences that sought other musical pleasures.

One cannot help but notice the precision put into these pieces, however. Couperin’s mincing Les Moissonneurs contrasts with the pastoral sixth movement, Les Bergeries , which in turn is placed alongside the twittering of Le Gazoüillement or the solemn and almost sepulchral textures of Les Baricades Mistérieuses . Each of these movements contains minute twists and turns of precision ornamentation, forcing the listener to focus on a line within a line, a musical cake decorated with a plethora of florets and vines. The four pieces of Forqueray, on the other hand, sound almost tame, though one must admit that the original version for viol and continuo is much more subtle. Indeed, it is not really believed that Antoine Forqueray was the composer, as the rather more staid music in comparison with Couperin was probably by his father Jean-Baptiste. Moreover, it is even possible that the latter’s wife Marie-Rose may have made the arrangement for solo harpsichord, though this remains speculative. By the time of Rameau, however, such intimacy had been replaced with a more skilled science that emphasized harmony and simplicity. His contributions include music such as Les Sauvages that did dual duty in the chamber and opera house, this particular piece being derived from the opera-ballet Les Indies Galantes . The Duphly, written by an organist, was more emotional. Medée is a compendium of varied rhythms, changing tempos (created by lengthening or shortening note values), and a distinctively sinister use of the lower register.


All of these works have appeared elsewhere on disc, and the main reason for their programming here is to highlight an instrument built by Pascal Taskin in 1769, now in Edinburgh in the Raymond Russell Collection. The tone of the harpsichord is full-bodied and rich, the action quick and responsive. Harpsichordist John Kitchen performs with excellent precision and articulation, particularly in the often tortuous ornamentation that accompanies the Couperin pieces. Each and every nuance in the pieces is detailed, but overall couched in a skillful interpretive phrasing that only an intimate knowledge of the music of this age, the instrument upon which it is being played, and the style can bring. The quality of the recording is crystal clear, with excellent tonal depth. Although the works themselves can be found in equally adept performances elsewhere, the reason to get this disc is both for the spirited and nuanced played and to hear a truly remarkable instrument. It is well-worth having in anyone’s collection.

FANFARE: Bertil van Boer
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Works on This Recording

1. Pièces de clavecin, Book 2: Ordre 6 in B flat major by François Couperin
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1717; Paris, France 
2. La Du Breüil by Antoine Forqueray
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
3. Pièces de viole: Suite no 2 in G major - 4th movement, La Leclair by Antoine Forqueray
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: France 
4. La Léon by Antoine Forqueray
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
5. La Boisson by Antoine Forqueray
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
6. Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin: no 6, La triomphante by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1730; France 
7. Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin: no 5, Fanfarinette in A major by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1730; France 
8. Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin: no 16, L'égiptienne by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1730; France 
9. Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin: no 15, L'enharmonique by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1730; France 
10. Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin: no 14, Les sauvages by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: circa 1729-1730; France 
11. Pièces de clavecin, Book 3: no 1, La Forqueray by Jacques Duphly
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1756; France 
12. Pièces de clavecin, Book 3: no 3, Medée by Jacques Duphly
Performer:  John Kitchen (Harpsichord)
Period: Baroque 
Written: by 1756; France 

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