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Le Cœur & L’oreille - Manuscript Bauyn
Louis COUPERIN (c. 1626-1661)
Prelude in F [3:01]
Tombeau de M. de Blancrocher [4:54]
Suite in G minor [16:36]
Jacques Champion de CHAMBONNIÈRES (1601/2-1672)
Suite in F [14:17]
Suite in C [11:57]
Jacques HARDEL (c. 1643-1678)
Suite in D minor [8:57]
Gavotte avec Double par M. Couperin [2:19]
Jean Henry D’ANGLEBERT (1629-1691)
Sarabande grave en forme de gaillarde [3:50]
Johann Jacob FROBERGER (1616-1667)
Toccata in A minor [4:11]
René MESANGEAU (d. 1638)
Sarabande [2:32]
Germain PINEL (d. 1661)
Sarabande [1:36]
Giuia Nuti (harpsichord)
rec. Church of Corcelles, Canton of Neuchâtel, Switzerland, 2015
ARCANA A434 [74:24]

The Manuscript Bauyn is one of the most important sources of seventeenth century French harpsichord music; it was created in around 1690 when very little music was printed and is therefore a valuable resource for music of the period. Although the manuscript largely concerns itself with French Music, it also collected together some work by composers of other nationalities, most notably Johann Jacob Froberger, who is represented on this disc, and Girolamo Frescobaldi. It is however, the inclusion of 122 pieces by Louis Couperin for which it is best known, as this represents the largest single and most valuable collection of the composer’s music.

This disc concentrates on the two main composers of the period, Jacques Champion de Chambonnières and Louis Couperin, both of whose music I have come to love. In the de Chambonnières, often regarded as the father of the French harpsichord school, the performance of Giuia Nuti is preferable to that of Franz Silvestri for Brilliant Classics (95250); she is not only aided by a warmer acoustic and recording, but her performance is also more considered and characterful. Whilst I enjoyed her performance of the Couperin, I find Skip Sempé (ALPHA 333) a little more insightful, although there is very little crossover between recordings.

The real discovery here is the music of Jacques Hardel, a composer I had only ever read about; not a lot is known about him, even his birth date is given here as sometime between 1643 and 1650. He was a student of de Chambonnières, and from this evidence, a good one. Only a handful of pieces have survived, a six movement Suite, one of the earliest examples of the French art form, which is recorded here, as is the Gavotte avec Double par M. Couperin, with the other work being a Courante for lute, which might have been a transcription of an earlier and now lost harpsichord piece. His music shows great form and originality, making him a ‘what if…’ compose - what if he had lived longer and had his works published? On this evidence he would have been one of the leading lights of the period and important in the development of French music.

The instrument must be discussed here, a lovingly maintained period harpsichord made by Louis Denis in Paris in 1658 (Le Hanneton). It has a lovely warm glow about the sound, yes it is resonant, but Giuia Nuti tells us in her excellent notes that she allows for this in her performance, allowing this to be a part of the music, to colour it and not just be an echo. For me the result is a very pleasing one; yes the effect may not be as crisp as a modern copy, but it is worth it for the warmth generated by the instrument. This is an excellent recording.

Stuart Sillitoe



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