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Disc: 1
1. FRANÇOIS COUPERIN La Françoise (Les Nations)
2. Airs Sérieux
5. FRANÇOIS COUPERIN Suite De Simphonie En Trio (Les Nations)
Disc: 2
1. JEAN-MARIE LECLAIR ‘L’AÎNɒ Violin Sonata In D Major, Op. 9 No. 6
2. MARIN MARAIS Suite In F Major
3. Le Tableau De L’Opération De La Taille
4. MONTÉCLAIR Pan Et Syrinx
5. MARAIS La Sonnerie De Sainte-Geneviève Du Mont De Paris

Product Description

One of the key recordings ever to be made of French court music, this seminal recording returns to the catalogue, now with each item and/or movement individually indexed. The offerings encompass both suites and cantatas. The music – written both for and around the court life of Versailles (1697 – 1747) is sophisticated and elegant taking us from the post-Lully era, to the final examples of great French baroque chamber music, that of Leclair. The collection is notable for the pure, unsullied voice of the late Judith Nelson (a long-time collaborator with the Academy of Ancient Music) and cellist Christophe Coin’s narration in the slightly grisly account of the description of an operation to remove a gall-stone! The booklet includes the original note, texts and translations of the vocal items, and Christopher Hogwood’s own newly-written introduction for this reissue.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 1 review
Excellent ! 8 Jun. 2014
By P. Karargiris - Published on
Format: Audio CD
A wonderfully rich and diverse two CD set, performed by some of the most prominent names in the contemporary Baroque music world. Monica Huggett, Christoph Coin and the late Judith Nelson need little introduction to those familiar with the great revival of Baroque music that began in the late 1970s and continues strongly today. Christopher Hogwood; director and harpsichordist, largely brought about that revival and with this recording he certainly lives up to his usual high standards.

Having collected many previous recordings featuring not only Hogwood and the Academy of Ancient Music but all three of these soloists, I was thrilled to find this 1983 set reissued on the Decca Eloquence label.

All the pieces included here are amongst the finest of the French Baroque repertoire. Of the five composers represented, Francois Couperin (1668 – 1733) stands out as possibly the best known. His stately ‘Suite de Simphonie en Trio’ and ‘La Francoise,’ both from the set ‘Les Nations,’ along with two short vocal pieces, the ‘Airs Serieux,’ represent the type of music written by him to entertain the aging and highly conservative Louis XIV.

The two cantatas by Michel Pignolet de Monteclair are sweet and charming but both are very conventional compositions of their day. We enter more interesting territory with Jean-Baptiste Forqueray’s ‘Suite No 1.’ Amongst its four musical portraits are, ‘La Forqueray,’ perhaps a parody of the style and an evocation of the personality of the composer’s father and the suite concludes with an ostentatious portrait of the great and venerable Couperin himself.

The opening ‘Allegro’ of Jean-Marie Leclair’s ‘Violin Sonata in D major, Op 9 No 6’ sounds remarkably modern and is a piece that demands great virtuosity of the violinist. Happily Monica Huggett is more than equal to the task; negotiating; ‘double trills, multiple stopping, wild arpeggiated passages and devilishly subtle slurs.’

A real musical oddity on the second disc is Marin Marais’ ‘Le Tableau de L’Operation de la Taille’ usually translated as; 'The Gall Stone Operation'. This item is made even more bizarre by Christophe Coin reciting the descriptions of the stages of the operation which are included in Marais’ score. Sadly, no translation of the stages is given but Coin’s voice is beautiful and adds a delightfully macabre note to this musical curio.

Finally we come to the one piece that, for me, stands far above all the others. That is Marin Marais’ ravishingly beautiful ‘La Sonnerie de Sainte Genevieve du Mont de Paris’ (The Bells of Saint Genevieve) Dating from 1723, it is perhaps Marais’ most famous work and evokes some of the artistry of his enigmatic teacher Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe. Marais gives prominence throughout to his own instrument the viol but the violin and harpsichord are put through their paces too to create what, in my opinion, is one of the supreme masterpieces of French Baroque music – a finely wrought jewel; hypnotic and mesmerizing in its elegant complexity and full of haunting emotional power. Described simplistically in the booklet as ‘a trio for violin, obbligato viol and harpsichord’ the Sonnerie marvelously brings together the considerable talents of Huggett, Coin, and Hogwood, and on the spiritual level, takes us as close as we will probably ever come to the lost splendours of Versailles in the age of Louis XIV.
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