Notes & Reviews:
Although François Couperin (1668-1733) is best known today as a composer of harpsichord music, he remained deeply involved in chamber music throughout his career. Les Nations is a vast project in which the virtues of both the French and Italian styles are set next to each other. Each of the four ordres celebrates a Catholic power of Europe - France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the Savoy dynasty of Piedmont - and each is a combination of an Italianate trio sonata with its free-form virtuosity and a large-scale and elaborate French dance suite. Led by the Julliard School's Historical Performance Program artistic director and violinist Monica Huggett, the period-instrument specialist Juilliard Baroque ensemble, featuring nine of the world's most respected and accomplished early music instrumentalists, is a faculty grouping committed to lively, passionate performances of 17th - 18th c. music.
American Record Guide, September/October 2015
This new release by faculty members in the baroque performance program at Juilliard (including again Monica Huggett) also follows this "big band" approach, and the performance is closest to Les Ombres. Still, for a budget recording, I would recommend Juilliard Baroque. My favorite interpretation remains the older recording by the Kuijkens, who have the sensitivity to bring out the elegance in Couperin's music.
Recording information: Corpus Christi Church, 525 West 121st Street, New York (02/10/2013/12/10/2013).
Upon its arrival in France, the Italian trio sonata form was enthusiastically taken up by Francois Couperin, a composer better known today for his works for harpsichord than for his chamber music.
At the time, especially in comparison with the conservative French classical dance tradition, the Italian sonata, written without adherence to either particular structure or text, was considered a radical, freeform musical innovation.
In “Les Nations”, a collection of four nationally themed compositions called ‘ordres’, Couperin combines his earliest trio sonatas with some of his last large scale French dance suites, the resulting contrast providing a chance for listeners (then and now) to appreciate the virtues of both forms.
On their new recording of Couperin’s work, Juilliard Baroque plays with the passion of virtuosi and the deep understanding of scholars; each member of the ensemble is an acknowledged expert at both his/her individual instrument and period performance practices. Their collective sound can be hard to describe; it’s not so much a re-creation as a renewal, breathing new life into Couperin’s music. (Special mention should be made of oboist Gonzalo X. Ruiz, who pulls quadruple duty as co-producer, engineer, editor and musician.)
“Les Nations” by Juilliard Baroque may just be the definitive statement of Couperin’s music and should be welcomed by expert and general listeners alike.
Highest possible recommendation 10 out of 10 Oscar O. Veterano
Submitted on 05/19/15 by Oscar O. Veterano
Submitted on 05/29/15 by Allen Cohen
Chiayu: Journeys - Works for Mixed Ensembles / Ciompi Quartet; Members of the Philadelphia Orch. & Curtis Institute of Music
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Havergal Brian: Symphonies Nos. 6, 28, 29 and 31 / New Russia State SO, Walker
The Thurston Connection: English Music for Clarinet & Piano by Arnold Bax, Roger Fiske, Iain Hamilton; Hugh Wood / Nicholas Cox, clarinet; Ian Buckle, piano
Prokofiev: Symphony No. 3; Scythian Suite; Autumn / São Paulo SO; Alsop
Ernesto Cavallini (1807-74): Clarinet Concertos 1 & 2; Variations; Fantasy / Giuseppe Porgo, clarinet; Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock; Moesus
Penderecki: Magnificat; Kadisz / Warsaw PO; Antoni Wit et al.
Edward German (1862-1936): 'Souvenir' - Works for Violin & Piano / Andrew Long, violin; Ian Buckle, piano
Moscow Symphony Orchestra/William T. Stromberg (Conductor): Erich Wolfgang Korngold: The Adventures of Robin Hood
Works DetailsCouperin, François : Les Nations, sonatas & suites for 2 violins & continuo
- Ensemble: Juilliard Baroque
- Notes: Corpus Christi Church, 525 West 121st Street, New York City (02/10/2013/12/10/2013)
- Running Time: 6 min. 28 sec.
- Period Time: Baroque