Magazine article Gramophone

L Couperin: 'Dances from the Bauyn Manuscript'

Magazine article Gramophone

L Couperin: 'Dances from the Bauyn Manuscript'

Article excerpt

L Couperin 'Dances from the Bauyn Manuscript' Suites--in A; in D minor; in G minor. Allemande Grave, M67. Chaconne, M78. Chaconne ou Passacaille, M96. Tombeau de Mr de Blancrocher, M81. Pavanne, M120 Pavel Kolesnikov pf Hyperion (F) CDA68224 (79' * DDD)

For his latest Hyperion release, the immensely talented Pavel Kolesnikov has taken up an extraordinarily daunting challenge. In his decision to record Louis Couperin, he has chosen a corner of the French 17th-century harpsichord literature perhaps least susceptible to translation to other instruments. He has gone to considerable lengths to pull it off, including the use of two separate actions of distinct character in the Yamaha CFX concert grand he plays. One certainly understands the motivation. Louis, greatest of all the Couperins save for his nephew Francois, is a fascinating composer. What survives of his strikingly original and often dissonant music spans scarcely a decade of his all-too-brief life.

Of particular interest are Couperin's quasi-improvisatory unmeasured preludes, a legacy of the Renaissance lutenists that would become a special province of the French clavecinistes. But it may be these characteristic pieces, structurally and texturally dependent on the rich overtones of the loosely strung harpsichord, that sacrifice most when transferred to the piano, with its taut steel strings and greatly reduced overtones. …

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