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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forqueray harpsichord suites - 1747, 24 July 2011
There is little to add to what the other excellent review here explains.These 5 suites that were published in 1747 are among the finest harpsichord music of the late Baroque and are almost certainly from the pen of Jean-Baptiste Forqueray and NOT from his father Antoine.It is well known that Antoine was highly jealous of his sons formidable skills on the bass viol/gamba,so much so that he had him imprisoned and wanted him exiled from France simply because he couldn't bear the thought of his son being more famous than himself.These wonderful suites were published in 2 versions - for lead bass viol with a continuo of a 2nd bass viol/harpsichord but also for solo harpsichord alone.It's the solo harpsichord version that has become the most popular just as it was at the time of publication and as Jean Baptiste Forqueray was an expert gamba player it's seems plausible that his wife,herself an excellent harpsichordist,had a hand in the transcription for that particular instrument.

There are a number of recording's of this music available but none that matches Ketil Haugsand's.His deep understanding of Baroque practice combined with AUTHENTIC tempos make listening an absolute pleasure,as other performances i have heard are generally played too fast for comfort.

This is a splendid achievement by Ketil Haugsand and one of his finest recorded performances.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Forqueray from Ketil Haugsand, 23 July 2011
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Stephen Midgley (Tarbrax, West Calder, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a superb recording by any standards. For a start, the music is quite remarkable, both in its character and because of the circumstances in which it arose. These five suites for harpsichord have traditionally been attributed to Antoine Forqueray - understandably so because, when his son Jean-Baptiste Forqueray published them in 1747, soon after his father's death, he described them as works for viol written by his father and transcribed by him, young Forqueray, for harpsichord. But in fact the case has been made convincingly, both in this set's fascinating sleeve-notes and elsewhere, that the pieces are mostly or even entirely the work of young Jean-Baptiste - quite possibly with the participation of his wife Marie-Rose, herself a brilliant keyboard player. Now the elder Forqueray was well known to have been an extremely disagreeable character who, for example - and very unusually compared to most families of musicians - was insanely jealous of his son's outstanding talents, and altogether had behaved quite appallingly towards his family including his own wife and son. So quite why Forqueray junior would want to give his vindictive parent credit for anything, let alone these magnificent suites, nobody knows; but there you go.

Be that as it may, these brilliant works are superb examples of the French baroque keyboard suite, and of late baroque music in general. J.-B. Forqueray's music is dramatic, imaginative, capricious, deeply thoughtful, and remarkably addictive. And, what is more, Norwegian harpsichordist Ketil Haugsand is in every way equal to the task, bringing style, energy, insight, dazzling brilliance and a supremely delicate touch to these works. If you can, try listening to some of the movements from the third suite - such as III/2, La Regente, with the composer's direction Noblement perfectly describing both the movement and Haugsand's interpretation; III/4, La Angrave, with its subtle build-up of energy; or III/7, La Morangis ou La Plissay - Mouvement de Chaconne, an absolutely magnificent example of this genre. And, in case you are as hopelessly addicted to chaconnes as I am, there's another fine one at the close of the second suite. Or try the first couple of movements in Suite V, as well as the concluding V/7, Jupiter - an astonishing tour de force with the god's thunderbolts being hurled from the keyboard with spectacular panache.

The sound of the instrument, and its recording by Deutschlandfunk in Cologne for the Norwegian Simax Classics label, are also brilliant. In fact, as Professor Haugsand tells us in his entertaining history of the making of this recording, he finally gave up waiting for someone to build him a replica 18th-century Flemish harpsichord and built it himself! The result of all this is a simply stunning two-disc set of French baroque keyboard music, among the finest harpsichord recordings I have heard. Nevertheless, for those who are interested in comparing this with other recordings of the same pieces - such as Mitzi Meyerson's set, also very fine, or Christophe Rousset's which I haven't heard - it's worth bearing in mind that these works are often listed in the name of Jean-Baptiste's spiteful father Antoine, or in some cases are entitled "Livre de clavecin de Madame Forqueray", referring to J.-B.'s wife Marie-Rose. So it may look complicated in the listings but in fact there was only one collection of Forqueray keyboard suites, and this is it. And this recording by Ketil Haugsand, just in case you missed the message, is truly wonderful.
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