Notes and Editorial Reviews
Blissfully musical performances show off Rameau’s kaleidoscope of colours
Rameau’s 1741 collection represents a major and entirely logical departure from the trio sonata and suite traditions that had held sway in Western European chamber music since the beginning of the 17th century. Other composers experimented with blander versions – think of JS Bach’s sonatas for keyboard and viola da gamba or Couperin’s concerts royaux – but their textures remain closer to the trio sonata than to the piano trios that follow Rameau’s publication in the later 18th century. And, in a very real sense, Rameau’s textures are uniquely complex, demanding of the players a heightened awareness at any given moment of their role in the musical
texture at hand.
Many of the best period players of our day – modern players don’t seem interested in performing Rameau’s exquisite essays in chamber music – have recorded these five concerts. Trevor Pinnock, who has lately been astonishing and delighting us with his return to solo harpsichord playing, is not normally associated with French music, having for so long excelled in Italian, English and German orchestral and choral repertoires. Nor are Rachel Podger and Jonathan Manson. But they capture the spirit and style of the music perfectly in this recording.
-- These are balanced and refreshingly musical performances that will draw you back again and again to savour the gracefulness and the kaleidoscopic blending of instrumental colours they bring to the music. Pinnock’s playing is lively and engaging, inspiring and inspired. His accuracy is breathtaking, his ornamentation jewel-like. Podger and Manson respond with clarity and shapely phrasing, even in the hair-raising ‘Tambourins’ (Troisième Concert). A movement such as ‘La Boucon’ (Deuxième Concert) is made wonderfully languid, ‘La Timide’ (Troisième Concert) sinuous but never oppressively so; and ‘La Pantomime’ (Quatrième Concert) is altogether civilised. In rich contrast, ‘L’Indiscrète’ buzzes with ‘gossip’ and the eponymous – and possibly self-deprecatory – ‘La Rameau’ is all whistles and bells (both are from the Quatrième Concert). Tempi are consistently well chosen: the sinuous ‘La Livri’ (Premier Concert), moves ahead, avoiding potentially cloying mannerisms; the rubato is beautifully judged and the cadences are stylishly understated (listen for example to the ‘Premier menuet en rondeau’ of the Deuxième Concert). It is a relief to hear ‘La Forqueray’ (Cinquième Concert) played for once without recourse to violence. And ‘La Marais’ (Cinquième Concert), which concludes the CD, reminds us how well the tone of a violin and viol can blend when produced by players of this calibre.
-- Julie Anne Sadie, Gramophone [3/2003]
This is a hybrid Super Audio CD playable on both regular and Super Audio CD players.
Works on This Recording
Pièces de clavecin en concerts by Jean-Philippe Rameau
Trevor Pinnock (Harpsichord),
Rachel Podger (Violin),
James Manson (Bass Viola da gamba)
Written: by 1741; France
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