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Editorial Reviews

As the foremost representative of one of the most illustrious musical dynasties in history, François Couperin achieved distinction in every contemporary genre except opera. But it was in his pieces for the harpsichord that he revealed his personality -- La Couperin, from the 21st Ordre, is a witty self-portrait (marked "with moderate vivacity"!). Couperin also showed in his four Livres de Clavecin in 27 Ordres that he was interested in every aspect of his times, from the great personages at court whom he frequented as music master to the royal family (Les Lis Naissans, an evocation for the twelve-year-old Louis XV) to the delights of childhood (Les Petits Ages), not to mention satire of the parochial quarrels of musicians (Les Fastes de la Grande et Ancienne Ménéstrandise) and the taste for pastoral (Les Bergeries). Even when the hidden meanings of those intriguing titles escapes us (what are the beguiling Baricades Mistérieuses or the Tic-Toc-Choc?), or when abstract music claims its share of attention, as in the majestic Passacaille, we are as fascinated as ever by this kaleidoscope of colors and styles. "I should never have thought my Pieces would achieve immortality," wrote the composer in the preface to his Third Book. But that is precisely what has happened.

Barricades Mysterieuses / Pieces De Clavicin