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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

French Connections, Jonathan Rhodes Lee, Harpsichord Music by Louis Couperin, Francois Couperin, Antoine Forqueray


If you want to bring a smile to my face, send me some music from the French Baroque. As I remarked on my FB wall the other day, at its best there is a sweetness, a kind of Romanticism of its own,  that sets it all as a thing apart in ways that differ from any other period and style. So happily the other day the mailman brought such a release, an album of harpsichord music done beautifully and meticulously by Jonathan Rhodes Lee, the program entitled French Connections (Navona Records NV6389).

The combination of nicely chosen works and committed performances makes this one a happy go of things. I have heard most all of this music in other versions, but I must say that the sequence here seems especially inspired, a great introduction for those that do not know much of this but then also a nicely put-together selection even for those well versed in it.

The program consists of three series of interconnected works--Louis Couperin's "Pieces in F," Francois Couperin's "17th ordre,"from "Troisieme Livre de pieces de clavecin," and finally  Antoine Forqueray's "Selections from suite no. 5" as arranged for solo harpsichord by Jean Baptiste Forqueray. I know these latter pieces in their original scoring for solo viol, and so I am glad to hear them in this way.

The idea of putting together a series of dance music pieces into a suite is most admirably exemplified by the Louis Couperin "Suite." His nephew Francois follows with a suite where nicknames are in part the orienting principal. Finally we get Fouqueray's Suite selection where the virtuoso element is more toward the forefront.

Well now I must say in conclusion that this all constitutes a delightful set of works played with both care and zeal. French Baroque harpsichord styles come though with clarity and concentrated zest. I thoroughly recommend this music! Molto bravo!

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