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Cat. No. CHAN 0708 Price: £0 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0708 - Rameau: Pièces de Clavecin, Vol. 2
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Available From: 09 August 2004
The young Jean Philippe Rameau had to fight hard against parental opposition in order to pursue a musical career. He won the battle at the age of eighteen when he was expelled from the Jesuit college at which he was supposed to be studying law. His father then sent him off to Italy to see if he could make something of himself as a musician. Upon his return, the young Rameau earned his living as an organist. He moved to Paris and by 1706 had produced his first book of harpsichord pieces.

The world from which Rameau’s music sprang was one in which behaviour was severely controlled – especially at court – by spoken and unspoken rules and conventions. This made the pastoral world of idealised, magical nature a very attractive metaphysical escape-route. The pastoral is therefore a very important theme in Rameau’s works. He also represents human emotions and some of his pieces are more specific descriptions of individuals, echoing the autobiographical style of his forebear, François Couperin.

In Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin , Rameau presents some of his extremely forward-looking ideas on harmony and dissonance. The style of the dance movements – Allemande, Courante and Sarabande – is formal, but in long-breathed phrases, requiring a sustained, legato style of playing which was newly possible on the enlarged, sonorous harpsichord of the mid-eighteenth century. Cinq pièces pour clavecin seul, extraites de ‘Pièces de clavecin en concerts’ are solo versions of pieces originally intended for a trio of violin (or flute), viol and harpsichord playing equal parts (rather than the keyboard assuming the customary continuo role). Rameau himself said that the works lost nothing when played on the harpsichord alone, as can be observed in this recording.

'This second recording in Sophie Yates's Rameau series (the first was released four years ago 12/00) has it all - novelty, familiarity, sensuousness, audacity, musical authority and a beautiful sound… Stunning!

'Sophie Yates plays a powerful sounding harpsichord and finds opportunities to display its full musical resources in this consistenly marvellous music. She tackles the big virtuoso moments head on and even manages to fit in a few roulades of her own - I especially enjoyed those at the end of the Gavotte's final Double.'
Early Music Review

With fine sound, a generous CD length, a sweet but resonant copy of a 1749 Goujon harpsichord, and good notes by Yates herself, this album is definitely a winner.

'Yates's strengths are clearly suited to those of Rameau: depth of characterisation, polarised moods and a delight in the instrument's sonorities.'
BBC Music Magazine

'Yates is an elegant, expressively restrained player who imbues Rameau's music with enormous charm and refinement.'
International Record Review


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