Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Louis Couperin - Complete Keyboard Works - Egarr

Rating: 5/5

An outstanding set

This is a terrific recording of the whole of Louis Couperin's output for keyboard. It is wonderful music which has been somewhat unfairly overshadowed by that of his nephew, Francois. The pieces here have been arranged into the form of suites by Richard Egarr and form a delightful and very rewarding programme. It is some of the best and most inventive keyboard music of the 17th Century, and Richard Egarr does it proud.

Egarr is now well established as a giant of baroque performance as a conductor, in his wonderful partnership with Andrew Manze and as a keyboard player in his own right. This will only enhance his reputation: his playing is controlled, elegant and full of thought and insight. His ornamentation is perfectly judged and the whole effect is wonderful. It is helped by his careful choice of instruments of which he uses two here, both plucked by quills. Egarr explains in his excellent notes that quill is "so much more sensitive, flexible and musical," and you can hear this here. The effect is to make the instruments sound rich and often delicate - qualities not always evident in harpsichords. The sound is beautifully captured by Harmonia Mundi's recording.

I have a much-loved set of these works by the great Davitt Moroney and this is at least its equal - I may even prefer it. This is an outstanding set, in my view, and very, very warmly recommended.

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