F. Couperin: Harpsichord Works

Tilman Skowroneck
Tyxart TAX20153

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Oh joy! Outstanding music, thoughtfully programmed, a sumptuous and appropriate instrument (also used by Gustav Leonhardt), and disciplined playing that seeks the essence of each piece rather than tries to impose ideas upon it.

For all our delight in his other music, it is the keyboard ordres that are the basis of Couperin’s high reputation and even though we have only a fraction of that repertoire here, it’s enough to prove the point. I particularly welcome the decision, in the context of a stand-alone recital, to play only selections from two of the suites to make space for a third.

The harpsichord is a French-style, two-manual instrument by Martin Skowroneck. Its lush sonorities are an utter delight and its resources expertly deployed (try track 7, La Favorite and track 27, the famous B minor Passacaille). And, although there are those that quite reasonably question the order of the last two pieces in that ordre, this playing makes an eloquent case for the publication as it stands.

The booklet (in German, English and French, the last much abbreviated!) won’t win any prizes for graphic design but we are offered a solid, old-fashioned essay that really does tell us what we need to know, as well as artist and instrument information, even if the English is not always perfect. TS’s biography suggests that he ‘defended’ his dissertation on Beethoven. The German original has the anti-climactic though rather more likely ‘submitted’!

But all in all, a solid, old-fashioned and enthusiastic recommendation is amply justified.

David Hansell

One reply on “F. Couperin: Harpsichord Works”

Thank you for this review. My understanding of the term “defend” in relation to a dissertation is Continental usage for the oral examination before the examiners of one’s dissertation. I believe that this “viva voce” is the final process in the award.
I seem to recall that one of my colleagues said that her son had recently undergone his “defence” and that it was difficult but normal.

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