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Cat. No. CHAN 0659 Price: £10.5 No. of discs: 1
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CHAN 0659 - Rameau: Pièces de Clavecin, Vol. 1
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Available From: 17 August 2000
Born in Dijon to a musical family, Rameau had to fight parental opposition to pursue a career in music and, after being expelled from a Jesuit college where he was supposed to be studying law, was sent to Italy to pursue his chosen career. Upon his return the young Rameau earned his living as an organist: he moved to Paris and by 1706 had produced his ‘Premier Livre de pièces de clavecin’.

The style of composition explored by Rameau’s predecessors – the ‘unmeasured’ prelude for harpsichord – was imitative of the lute and all that was admired in it and its performers, particularly the lutenists art of ‘preluding’ (improvising after tuning their instruments before starting to play more formal dance movements). Although the harpsichord preludes are written down, an element of the improvisatory style is preserved by their being notated in semi-breves and without a time signature, leaving the rhythm to be decided upon by the player. Whilst the term ‘suite’ is not used in Rameau’s books of harpsichord pieces, movements in the same key are grouped together with the standard dances in the usual order. The ‘Premiere Livre de pièces de clavecin’ begins with a Prelude and ends with a Gavotte and Minuet.

Rameau’s 1724 book of ‘Pièces de clavecin’ was published along with a ‘Méthode pour la mécanique des droigts’ and a table of musical ornaments – a very useful and practical guide to achieving an apt finger technique for the harpsichord, and reminding us that the composer was a sought-after teacher during his time at Paris. The pieces in the new book show a new degree of sophistication compared with their counterparts in the previous publication. He uses the harpsichord’s timbres very differently from any previous composer, particularly in that he takes advantage of the instrument’s capacity to sustain, not a characteristic usually associated with harpsichords, but the builders in Rameau’s time developed instruments with increasingly long and singing sounds. This, combined with the specific use of arpeggiation to create a shimmering ‘halo’ of sound, opened up quite new possibilities for the instrument.
Reviews

Yatess sensitivity to the subtleties and nuances of this music goes hand in hand with a wonderful technical facility… she seems to have a natural feel for French music and the rich, almost orchestral colours of Rameaus writing.
Early Music Today

‘…Sophie Yates confirms her credentials as one of Britain’s most talented Harpsichordists… Yates has a neat agile technique, phrases thoughtfully, with a restrained but telling use of rubato and ornamentation.’
‘The Daily Telegraph’ on CHAN 0644 (Handel)

‘…Yates is a persuasive advocate, her interpretations thoughtful and deeply felt.’
‘Classic FM’ on CHAN 0596

‘I have had the pleasure of reviewing a string of discs from Sophie Yates here, and , like those with uniformly high marks, her Rameau is also a palpable hit’.
Fanfare

Yates plays her well-chosen selection with great subtlety and sparkle.
Gramophone

‘If this disc fails to ignite your enthusiasm for the harpsichord and its repertoire, then probably nothing else will… Yates plays with refinement of taste that pays off well in the Italian Concerto.’
‘BBC Music Magazine’ on CHAN 0598 (La Sophie)

 

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