Author Topic: Louis Couperin  (Read 2126 times)

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Offline Mandryka

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Louis Couperin
« on: October 05, 2016, 09:44:34 AM »
 

An newish recording  Colin Booth, interesting not least for the instrument, an original 17th century French harpsichord (Nicolas Celini 1661) which is both sweet and muscular, and has a powerful bass response, and is lucid despite being rich, colourful and resonant. It's like a mix of the best of French and Italian harpsichords.  Colin Booth's playing in no way disappointed me, he is dignified and warm and open to the variety of feelings in the music. He has, I think, a distinctively British way of placing the notes, so that the textures never seem to be congested, they always have the space to breath. It's a technique I associate most with Colin Tilney. There are some really wonderful things here.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2016, 09:49:00 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2016, 08:30:54 AM »


As a matter of fact, this the sole recording Leonhatdt made which is dedicated to Louis Couperin has taken me a long time to get into. Years. Now I think it is a masterpiece.

The reason I found it so challenging  is that Leonhardt avoids any attention seeking behaviour.  He doesn't woo the listener with either obviously virtuosic keyboard effects, or by grabbing on to and emphasising  attractive tunes in the music.

There's a self effacing quality at the emotional level too, and in a rather special sense. It would be grossly misleading to suggest that Leonhardt's style here is cold or "academic" or aloof or inhumane or inexpressive. But I do think that the expression is depersonalised: the emotions are there aplenty, but they're not Leonhardt's emotions: there's never the sense that he is expressing himself rather than expressing the music. That's to say, we have here a performance of great abandon: Leonhardt abandons his own ego.

The result is something which is probably justly described with the word "reticent": when Leonhardt plays he's not saying "me, me, me, just listen to me and what I can do and how intensely I feel the bliss and the pain" And for me, because of that impersonality, that abstraction, it was easy not to bother listening.

But if you do listen, rather than just let it wash over you, its qualities are really remarkable. There's great care to achieve a sort of fluid and continuous quality to the sound, which gives the music an almost languid quality, languid in a positive way: unhurried and relaxed. It's rich at the level of effect, and there's a great sense of forward momentum and pace and living pulse.

Above all there's the rapturous preludes: I think Leonhardt is particularly impressive in the preludes and it makes me wish he would have  been more open to improvisation.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2016, 12:41:50 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2016, 08:31:59 AM »


Unbelievably tender and introspective and lyrical, this recording by Christopher Hogwood. To my mind his fluid, undramatic and "level-headed", Apollonian style works better here than in Frescobaldi. SQ is distant and IMO pretty truthful: but not what people expect from modern harpsichord recordings.

Two minor key suites and the F major music that everyone plays. I'm beginning to wonder whether LC wasn't more at home in minor keys.

Don Satz put me on to this years ago, the softy! He's got a warm and fuzzy side. Shame there's no Froberger from Hogwood.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2016, 09:28:55 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline XB-70 Valkyrie

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2016, 06:48:44 PM »
Thanks. I will read these tomorrow or whenever my eyes recover. I am suffering eye strain right now and can't do much more than a cursory look. This composer and these recordings are of interest, definitely!
If you really dislike Bach you keep quiet about it! - Andras Schiff

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2016, 10:24:10 PM »

I'm beginning to wonder whether LC wasn't more at home in minor keys.


This was complete rubbish, though it may well be a reflection of something about Hogwood's style.




Listening again to the complete LC from Egarr I'm struck by the enormous variety of music, and having it all arranged in little suites by key makes me think of WTC. You could maybe the talk about the complexity of the C major music, the tenderness of the D major music and so on. In some of the suites I'm reminded of D'Anglebert, in others Froberger. What I would really like is more information on dating, style and influences: I once read a comment of Davitt Maroney's which suggested that very little is known.

Anyway LC is a composer who I think is satisfying when approached by means of a complete set, and this one by Egarr is imaginative, improvisatory, light, resonant, bold. Richard Egarr can sometimes make the voices collide to produce music of great expressiveness and turbulence and complexity. And at other times he knows how to take you by the hand and lead you through a simple flowing river of melody. And Egarr really can make his quill plectra make soul music: the dynamics and colours and textures are astonishing.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2016, 10:35:02 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2016, 10:16:21 AM »


Quote from: T S Eliot in East Coker
O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark,
The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant,

This was the poem which sprang to mind on listening to Glen Wilson play Louis Couperin. There is no consolation in the emotions he finds in the music, apart from the consolation knowing that someone suffers like you do. It is a Frobergian Louis Couperin - late Froberger, Froberger contemplating his own death. There is no joy, or not for long. The whole CD is a sort of essay on the horror of the human condition.

Truthful sound, distant, like when you hear a harpsichord from the audience. Copy of a Ruckers, resonant and rich, shades of grey, red rather than kaleidoscopic. Good choice for Wilson's majestic conception.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2016, 10:24:03 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2016, 09:38:48 AM »


Does anyone have the CD that Glen Wilson made for his Breitkopf edition of the preludes?
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Offline (: premont :)

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2016, 11:33:07 AM »

Does anyone have the CD that Glen Wilson made for his Breitkopf edition of the preludes?

You have prompted me to order the edition including the CD.
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heldigt nok at tiden går.

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2016, 09:30:14 PM »
You have prompted me to order the edition including the CD.

I hope you will play some of them yourself and post them on YouTube for us to hear.

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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2016, 02:24:56 AM »



Blandine Verlet's Louis Couperin, the first CD.

At first I thought that part of my frustration on listening to this recording was due to the Ruckers (Colmar.) It sounds rich and powerful, and it's  well recorded, but I prefer the greater brilliance and muscularity of Italian instruments in this music. Louis Couperin sounds most excellent on an instrument which has the sonorities of a lute and a harp; I say this  while acknowledging and relishing the extraordinary beauty and refinement and colouration and resonances of the Colmar Ruckers.

But that's only part of the reason for my frustration, Surprisingly given her reputation for impetuousness, Verlet is mostly sweet and lyrical with the the music. She has a tendency to prefer seamless flow over rhetoric and spontaneity. In short, in this CD at least, Verlet's Louis Couperin wrote "belle musique", it's as if she wants to stress his closeness to Chambonnières.  This is not the only way to play Louis of course, and it's not the way which I'm most respondent to.

One exception to this is the tombeau for Blancrocher, where she brings out the dissonances really effectively, and the wonderful Allemande which follows it is also memorable.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2016, 02:37:47 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2016, 04:44:46 AM »


Jan Willem Jansen at St Michel de Thiérache. Perfect instrument well recorded, I think this is an unfaultable recording, just the right degree of interiority, his sense of love and wonder in the music somehow comes across. Registrations colourful without being flamboyant. What Jansen does seems always totally natural, his ego kind of disappears, which is what I like. Even the sound engineering is spot on, with a certain ambiance but everything sounds crisp - you could imagine yourself sitting in a pew. I could not feel more positive.

Always good to hear French music played without too much court swagger, this is spiritual music, for the soul. And a plus is that it predates the Louis XIV formula.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2016, 04:47:30 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline aukhawk

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2016, 02:13:07 PM »
I'm beginning to wonder whether LC wasn't more at home in minor keys.

Aren't we all?  :-X

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #12 on: October 29, 2016, 09:54:51 AM »


Asperen's style in this the second instalment for Aeolus is

1. Psychological. That's to say Asperen reveals a music with surprising mood swings.

2. Spontaneous. The rubato and changes in tempo and volume make the music sound like an intense spontaneous outpouring. The rubato is particularly impressive because it is so natural. I know this is an odd thing to say, but Asperen here reminds me of Sofronitsky at his greatest (eg the Schubert op 90/3 from May 5th 1960 - never off Melodiya LP I'm afraid.)

3. Not so well recorded - too much reverberation. Shame that, 'cause the Vaudry at the V and A is nice and suits the music to a tee. The perspective is good - you're in the audience, not too close to the instrument.

4. Very different from Leonhardt. Listening to it I felt strongly that over time Asperen's style, particularly the freedom of his relation to the basic pulse, is very different from that of his erstwhile colleague Gustav Leonhardt.

5. Not at all genteel. That's to say, he relishes, indeed creates, asperities and dissonances. One is constantly being jolted by an unexpected rhythm etc.

6 Fluid. Given (5) it's remarkable that there is such a strong feeling of momentum forward. The play is so "rhetorical", the articulation is so "small cell" that the danger that the structure of a complete movement gets lost. But somehow he carried it off. Such is the paradoxical nature of great music.

Basically I think this is a great recording, marred by disappointing sound engineering.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2016, 12:44:25 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2016, 10:20:03 PM »
You have prompted me to order the edition including the CD.

http://www.glenwilson.eu/partituur.jpg

In this essay, Glen Wilson talks about the restraint and the sobriety of his approach to rubato for Froberger, his attitude towards inner life, my guess the same sort of considerations apply to his Louis Couperin too.

In the absence of a serious book on Froberger, the essay is the best thing I've read on the composer.
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #14 on: July 09, 2017, 06:34:40 AM »


Karen Flint. All the interest comes from the melody in the top voice. There's hardly any drama through interplay of voices. It's über-lyrical, not a jolting rhythm in sight. Emotionally level headed, we're not in a world of  mood swings. There's a feeling of routine about the impeccable playing, it never really seems to take off. Good pair of Ruckers, well recorded. Having said that I've been enjoying Asperen's recordings so much I've started to think that the music really sounds at it's best on French harpsichords. It runs to 4 CDs so it may well be more complete than anything else around.

I may have missed something, let me know if you think I'm not being fair to Karen Flint.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 06:52:29 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #15 on: July 09, 2017, 06:39:52 AM »


Asperen's style in this the second instalment for Aeolus is

1. Psychological. That's to say Asperen reveals a music with surprising mood swings.

2. Spontaneous. The rubato and changes in tempo and volume make the music sound like an intense spontaneous outpouring. The rubato is particularly impressive because it is so natural. I know this is an odd thing to say, but Asperen here reminds me of Sofronitsky at his greatest (eg the Schubert op 90/3 from May 5th 1960 - never off Melodiya LP I'm afraid.)

3. Not so well recorded - too much reverberation. Shame that, 'cause the Vaudry at the V and A is nice and suits the music to a tee. The perspective is good - you're in the audience, not too close to the instrument.

4. Very different from Leonhardt. Listening to it I felt strongly that over time Asperen's style, particularly the freedom of his relation to the basic pulse, is very different from that of his erstwhile colleague Gustav Leonhardt.

5. Not at all genteel. That's to say, he relishes, indeed creates, asperities and dissonances. One is constantly being jolted by an unexpected rhythm etc.

6 Fluid. Given (5) it's remarkable that there is such a strong feeling of momentum forward. The play is so "rhetorical", the articulation is so "small cell" that the danger that the structure of a complete movement gets lost. But somehow he carried it off. Such is the paradoxical nature of great music.

Basically I think this is a great recording, marred by disappointing sound engineering.

I have revisited this one and I find myself in complete agreement with my former self. Vol 3 from the same series, on an anachronistic anonymous French instrument, may well be even more successful - less preoccupied with small musical gestures, more of a sense of long singing line, but still lots of inner life.



Anyway I just want to wax lyrical about Bob van Asperen, the Cortot of the harpsichord. I chose Cortot carefully, a pianist who brought Dionysus, who brought opium to the music. It's the disturbing and probing psychological depth of the two musicians, when they're at their best, which makes them so special.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2017, 06:45:22 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #16 on: July 17, 2017, 12:13:43 PM »


Noelle Spieth. Eloquent, she knows how to make the music convincing, like an argument which leads inevitably from premise to conclusion. Not too lyrical, the voices interrupt each other to produce a rough, uneven surface, far from the lyricism of Verlet or Flint. And that roughness never sounds gratuitous, always expressive. And that expressiveness reveals the emotional changeability of LC's music. Nicely recorded French sounding harpsichord. There's a magisterial seriousness about her style, but there's no sense of austerity. 
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 12:15:26 PM by Mandryka »
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Offline milk

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #17 on: September 23, 2017, 02:18:02 AM »

I'm listening to this this evening. I passed on this listening to this before because I love the L. Couperin recording by Skip Sempe so much - I just couldn't focus on this at the time. This is a program built around the instrument: Louis Denis in 1658. I think it's a great-sounding instrument, perhaps it sounds more like an Italian than a German? Marville delivers an introspective performance of introspective music. This is a very hardy (and throaty) instrument with a nice bite. French music is about mood and spontaneity and Marville brings across the drama. I think I shall listen to Van Asperen a bit too. 

Offline Mandryka

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #18 on: September 23, 2017, 04:36:04 AM »
The cover of that CD is a bit misleading because there's quite a bit of Froberger in there, and even some Chambonnieres.

What Marville does really well I think is make it sound like a plucked instrument, which may be no bad thing in French music from this time. I like her style, but not as much as Giulia Nuti's recording on the same instrument. Nuti makes the music sound as emotionally changeable as birds singing. That's what I want French music to sound like now - birdsong, lots of different bird species all singing at the same time in a forest. I also hear a greater sense of intense engagement in Nuti, but this may be just my mood when I've listened, I'm not sure.

There's also Rousset to take into account, who recorded LC on the Louis Denis. But in truth I don't think he drives it as well as Nuti or indeed Marville, though this may be a feature of the recording - he has other strengths maybe.

If you do decide to listen to Asperen remember he has an early recording too, on EMI.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2017, 04:39:34 AM by Mandryka »
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Offline milk

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Re: Louis Couperin
« Reply #19 on: September 23, 2017, 04:40:47 AM »
The cover of that CD is a bit misleading because there's quite a bit of Froberger in there, and even some Chambonnieres.

What Marville does really well I think is make it sound like a plucked instrument, which may be no bad thing in French music from this time. I like her style, but not as much as Giulia Nuti's recording on the same instrument. Nuti makes the music sound as emotionally changeable as birds singing. That's what I want French music to sound like now - birdsong. I also hear a greater sense of intense engagement in Nuti, but this may be just my mood when I've listened, I'm not sure.

There's also Rousset to take into account, who recorded LC on the Louis Denis. But in truth I don't think he drives it as well as Nuti or indeed Marville, though this may be a feature of the recording - he has other strengths maybe.
I'd like to find the Giulia Nuti. I'm gong to look around. The Rousset never clicked with me. Sempe is my favorite. It's one of my favorite recordings, period. Have you ever heard the Wladyslaw Klosiewicz Froberger?

I really like the sound of the Denis.

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