Search This Blog

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Louis Couperin, Suites st Pavane, Skip Sempe

When I was listening the other day to Louis Couperin's Suites et Pavane (Alpha Classics 333) as recorded by harpsichordist Skip Sempe my partner perked up her ears and commented, "That's nice. Who is it? Sounds like Bach!" And I tried to explain it all succinctly. "Well, maybe the Bach of the English and French Suites. Otherwise, not so much. The fugal Bach was about the architecture and perfection of God's creation; Louis and Francois Couperin and the French Baroque were more about the human in the world with all her or his feelings and frailties. They were closer to a kind of Romanticism; Bach was raising great edifices of form."

And she understood. Neither schools are in the end exactly comparable. There is a sweetness to Couperin and Rameau where Bach was a master builder who incorporates feelings but more internal, more embedded in each structural whole. So it seems to me.

This recording of Couperin by Skip Sempe is close to ideal. The six "Suite de Pieces" and the "Pavane" are played with a poetic rubato that is just enough to heighten expression without going to distorted extremes. That sweet quality is brought to the forefront and gives us as cogent an argument for Louis Couperin's brilliance as any I've heard.

Each of the Suites and the Pavane relate to one another as equals. They are spiritually related as are siblings of the same family. They share traits but in the end differ enough one to the other to be readily distinguished.

Each goes its way memorably and elegantly and then makes way for the next. There is beauty maybe more so than truth, but neither are they pretty lies, flattering baubles of a superficial veneer. Rather, they do run deep in spite of their exuberant charm and poignant melancholy.

Sempe's dedication to a vibrant and meditative realization underscores the universality of this music and its continued relevance to the thinking and feeling music lover.

The whole program ravishes. Truly, this will if you let it be a faithful companion to your musico-reflective self, always able to weave its spell on your being whenever you put it on and give it your attention.

An excellent addition to your collection!

No comments:

Post a Comment