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Cat. No. CHAN 0729 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0729 - Couperin: Les Nations, Volume 2
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Audio Sample

Available From: 01 October 2006
François Couperin was the finest composer at the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. In view of the fact that Versailles was the most vainglorious court in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Europe, it is remarkable to realise that Couperin was both personally and artistically discreet and modest. His musical portraits of people and his descriptions of scenes and events were more often intimate, comic and tender than pompously ceremonial. He wrote some extremely beautiful and genuinely spiritual music for ecclesiastical use and produced instrumental music for both strings and woodwind for the delectation of the King and nobility.

Couperin greatly admired Italian baroque composers such as Corelli, and his sonatas demonstrate his lifelong commitment to uniting, in his music, the best of both French and Italian musical conventions. Les Nations is the title under which Couperin published a collection of four large-scale sonatas, and the final two are recorded here, along with one of the Concerts royaux and two preludes from L’Art de Toucher le Clavecin. The first volume was excellently well received, and it is a delight to complete the set.

The Purcell Quartet responds naturally to the rhetoric of the music, particularly in the way they grow towards and relish Couperin’s expressive dissonances
Early Music

These are attractive works whose idiom nonetheless often eludes convincing performance. Couperin was a stickler for detail and was meticulous in matters of ornamentation. The Purcell Quartet have taken trouble over this and the results are rewarding.
BBC Music Magazine

Indeed, these are lovely readings, the Purcell Quartet’s elegant restraint perfectly suited to Couperin’s civilized musical language. Each movement is cleanly sculpted, the sinuous lines of the slower material (even when disrupted by profuse ornamentation as in the Sarabandes) contrasted with the sharply defined articulation of faster passages and Woolley’s sonorous utterances. You’re not looking at a sculpture; your not even running your hands over its smooth surfaces; you’re witnessing the shape unfolding in time. This is unexpectedly powerful: listen to the fugal textures of the second ‘Vivement’ of ‘L’Imperiale’ or the ‘Chaconne’ from the same ‘ordre’… Jonathan Copper’s sound recording is intimate and detailed and Richard Langham Smith’s booklet notes are a pleasure to read. And if that’s not enough, you get a marvellous Poussin on the front cover!
International Record Review


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