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Pour passer la Melancolie - Andreas Staier (Gramophone Award Winner 2013 - Baroque Instrumental Catagory)

5 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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  • Pour passer la Melancolie - Andreas Staier (Gramophone Award Winner 2013 - Baroque Instrumental Catagory)
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Product details

  • Composer: Froberger, D'Anglebert, Couperin, Fischer, Muffat, et al.
  • Audio CD (11 Feb. 2013)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Harmonia Mundi Classique
  • ASIN: B009YKMALY
  • Other Editions: MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 24,829 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
  • Sample this album Artist (Sample)
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Product Description

Product Description

Winner of the Gramophone Award 2013, Baroque Instrumental catagory. Whether the composer luxuriates in melancholic disorder or attempts to remedy it, there is but a fine line here between the vanity of the world and the artist s glory. In his readings of Froberger, Fischer and Clérambault, Andreas Staier distils the fruits of this sophisticated blend on an instrument saved from oblivion at the start of the 21st century. ' Why have all eminent men, whether philosophers, statesmen, poets or artists, so obviously been melancholics? This question forms the opening of a treatise attributed to Aristotle. The doctrine of the four temperaments (sanguine, choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic) associates the melancholic with the most varied phenomena: the planet Saturn, the autumn (also in the sense of the autumn of life), twilight, cold, avarice, but also genius, geometry, and brooding profundity of thought. Albrecht Dürer condenses this multiplicity of motifs with extreme concentration in his celebrated and enigmatic engraving Melencolia I of 1514. ...I would like to thank Laurent Soumagnac for placing his wonderful harpsichord at my disposal for this disc, and Markus Fischinger for maintaining the instrument during the recording sessions. My very special gratitude goes to my friend and colleague Skip Sempé. He took the time for many inspiring conversations about French music of the seventeenth century.' Andreas Staier

Review

[a] stimulating recital ... Staier brings nobility to his playing of these pieces ... fine-sounding and sympathetically recorded **** perf / ***** rec --Nicholas Anderson, BBC Music Magazine, April 2013

Staier s reflective approach is particularly suited to this repertory. He plays with great authority ... It is beautifully recorded, with close microphoning to enhance the intimate quality of the music ... Definitely recommended. --Noel O Regan, Early Music Review April 2013

Staier s reflective approach is particularly suited to this repertory. He plays with great authority ... It is beautifully recorded, with close microphoning to enhance the intimate quality of the music ... Definitely recommended. --Noel O Regan, Early Music Review April 2013

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By Stephen Midgley TOP 500 REVIEWER on 16 Sept. 2013
Format: Audio CD
There are already several highly complimentary reviews of this superb recording, so I'll only add a few words. The great assets of this recital from Andreas Staier are its 'melancholy' concept, the choice of works to demonstrate that theme, and Staier's performance. Those first two elements are, of course, closely related, and illustrate the profundity of baroque keyboard music at its best - even without the participation of JSB.

Every one of the composers represented here was an absolute master of his craft. To take only a handful of examples, JCF Fischer's Passacaglia from the 'Uranie' suite (track 7) is a dazzling, profound and unforgettable piece, all the more so here in Staier's magnificent interpretation. Louis Couperin's Chaconne in F begins with that arresting opening phrase which lends the piece its unique character, and never lets up for a moment after that. The Froberger laments which start and finish the disc are deeply affecting pieces, and after the latter (24) I only regretted the absence of the rest of the Suite mourning the tragic early death of the 21-year old Leopold IV, heir to the Austrian throne, with its glorious closing Sarabande (available on several Froberger-specific CDs).

But never mind, there's more than enough sweet and tragic melancholy here, and it's played in Staier's disciplined, classical style, not wayward or quirky, but deeply expressive. The anonymous French instrument is superb, and so is the recording. Unmissable for harpsichord fans!
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By JB TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 Mar. 2013
Format: Audio CD
We in this country know a thing or two about melancholy. Arguably it's partly brought on by our damp and foggy climate, and since the sixteenth century it's often been referred to as the "English Malady". Here in Andreas Staier's recording we have a Continental Baroque interpretation of melancholy, tied in with the Renaissance idea of vanitas. The cover of the album gives a good idea of what to expect: Giorgione's young man is in a reflective mood; perhaps he's meditating on the human condition, possibly brooding on the very meaning of life itself, and, eventually that which will come to all of us: Death.

Andreas Staier provides a thought-provoking short essay to introduce the concept behind this programme, with some startling observations. For instance, he is of the opinion that the chaconne or passacaglia might be taken as tolling the bell of ineluctable fatality. You might have thought of the chaconne in more simplistic terms, but this interpretation certainly opens your ears.

The pieces hold together, even though drawn from such distant cousins as Froberger and Clérambault; it's not all tombeaux, we also have the occasional stately courante and gigue thrown in too. The choice of temperament is possibly a make-or-break (depending on your ability to cope with octaves which aren't quite), but it certainly heightens the effect of anguish. The pitch is an unusual one, being at A=405, lower than conventional Baroque pitch but lending the instrument a deep sonority and enhancing the darker colours even further.

Don't be put off by the thought that listening to this recording might be in any way enervating: It isn't. It's at once alluring and deceptive in its choice of temperament but above all, it provokes some reflective thoughts in the listener. Personally I can't stop listening to it!
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By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 20 April 2013
Format: Audio CD
There are two excellent reviews here already by JB and C.Wake to which I have little to add except to endorse them wholeheartedly. Andreas Staier is a terrific harpsichordist, he has chosen some lovely and rather out-of-the-way repertoire and Harmonia Mundi have recorded it beautifully - the depth and resonance of Staier's instrument here is a joy.

My advice is to read the two fine reviews and then to snap this disc up - it's a cracker.

Update, August 28 2013: This disc has just won the Baroque Instrumental category in the 2013 Gramophone Awards - and very well deserved, too!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Andreas Staier always compliments his audience by expecting them to listen intelligently, but sometimes he goes further by witholding an explanation of what he is up to, when we listeners really need one.

In 2007, for example, he brought out a disc of Mozart 4-hands music (with Christine Schornsheim) on an 18th century machine called a "vis-à-vis" - a box with a fortepiano keyboard at one end, and a harpsichord at the other. Nowhere in his notes did he reveal who played what on what, and the most careful listening did not offer complete answers, as it turned out that harpsichord and fortepiano sounded much more like each other than we might have thought. Presumably that was the point Staier wanted to make.

Now he has produced a disc of late 17th century French music – a new interest for him – whose headline is "mélancolie" and the use of music to celebrate it and sooth it. The joker in this pack is the tuning – or "temperament" – Staier uses for his instrument, which is described (in very small print) as "after Lambert Chaumont, 1695". I have no idea what that means, but I do know that to me (who am not especially sensitive to pitch) it sometimes sounds very odd, and that my wife (who has very precise hearing) winced more than once when I played the recording.

The tuning we are all used to now – "equal temperament" – only came in gradually during the 18th century and was a matter of dispute. All this music would have first been played and heard in "unequal" tuning, which leaves some intervals purer and some wilder, which I suppose is the point Staier wants us to appreciate. I presume he chose this particular temperament as particularly appropriate to this repertoire, but he leaves us guessing.
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