Magazine article Gramophone

F Couperin

Magazine article Gramophone

F Couperin

Article excerpt

F Couperin

L'apotheose de Lully (a). Lecons de Tenebres (b)

(a) Katherine Watson, (a) Anna Dennis sops (a) Stephane Degout spkr Arcangelo / Jonathan Cohen

Hyperion (F) CDA68093 (71' * DDD * T/t)

Having written recently about Christophe Rousset's recording of Couperin's L'apotheose de Lully with Stephane Degout (Aparte, 12/16), I was surprised to encounter Degout again on Jonathan Cohen's new release, and to discover that the recording predates Rousset's. Both recordings are superb, if in different ways, and allow us to marvel at the adaptability of Couperin's music.

One of the particular delights of Cohen's Arcangelo is the idiomatic continuo-playing of the lutenist Thomas Dunford. From the outset he assumes the dominant role in elaborating the bass, rather than Cohen at the harpsichord. That this was a deliberate artistic decision is borne out by the inner logic of the instrumentation in both works on this disc.

Where Rousset varied the ensemble textures of the Apotheose with flutes, oboes and violins in the Lullian manner, Cohen has created a magical, delicate palette of chamber music colours vnth merely two violins and continuo. In the 'Vol de Mercure' and the 'Enlevement de Lulli au Pamasse', the solo lute accompaniment adds to the sense of moving through air. Jonathan Manson's solo viol accompaniments in the 'Rumeur Souteraine' and 'Plaintes des Memes' blend beautifully with the violins. The two Airs in which Lully and Corelli accompany one another transport the listener to Louis XIVs private quarters at Versailles, where the Apothe'ose might well have been performed in the closing days of his reign (and published at a later date). …

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