Robin Bigwood: Les Etoiles – harpsichord pieces by Boismortier & Corrette


NB. DOWNLOAD-ONLY – not a physical CD.

Boismortier’s wonderfully colourful Quatre suite de pieces de clavecin Op. 59 from 1736 (complete) and the first and third suite from Corrette’s Premier live de pieces de clavecin Op. 12 of 1734, played on a modern copy of the 1711 Donzelague double-manual harpsichord by Alan Gotto.

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Album excerpts

Album info

The pièces de clavecin on this album, from 1734 (Corrette) and 1736 (Boismortier), inevitably rest in the shadow of François Couperin’s four books of 1713, 1717, 1722 and 1730, and Jean-Philippe Rameau’s of 1724 and 1726/7. Those seminal works became exemplars for the French 18th century harpsichord style with its picturesque, playful and often descriptively-named character pieces grouped quite freely into ordres or suites. It was a model that almost all French composers – Corrette and Boismortier as well as Royer, Duphly and Balbastre – seemed content to follow for the next 50 years.

Luckily, imitation doesn’t necessarily equate to lower standards or a lack of individuality. In fact, most French harpsichord music from the 1730s onwards has persuasive strengths and charms of its own. It’s all too easy (and perhaps lazily fashionable) to assume otherwise, especially for the composers recorded here: neither was known principally as a claveceniste in his lifetime, and both have since acquired the ‘prolific’ tag, with an implication of almost mercenary quantity- over-quality in compositional output. There are differences in style between the two of course, but Corrette and Boismortier are equally inventive, explore an entertainingly wide range of mood and character, and demonstrate a master-level grasp of keyboard techniques and idiom.

Recording date: 17-18 July 2007. Location: Music department of University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. Session producer: Annabel Knight

Track listing

Michel Corrette (1707-1795)
from Premier Livre de Pieces de Clavecin… Ouevre 12eme (1734)

Premiere Suite
1. Prélude 2:02
2. Les Giboulées de Mars 3:19
3. Les jumelles 2:42
4. Les Amants Enchantés 2:48
5. Feste Sauvage 2:52
6. La Babillarde 1:15
7. Le Courier 2:00

Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1689-1755) Cinquante Neuviéme Oeuvre… Contenant Quatre Suites de Pieces de Clavecin (1736)

Premiere Suite
8. La Caverneuse 3:30
9. La Marguillieres 3:27
10. La Transalpine 1:29
11. La Valetudinaire 2:15
12. La Décharnée 2:02

IIe Suite
13. La Serenissime 2:37
14. La Gauloise 2:13
15. La Rustique 2:16
16. La Choquante 1:52

IIIéme Suite
17. L’Impérieuse 3:04
18. La Puce 1:15
19. La Navette 1:12
20. La Flagorneuse 2:47
21. La Belliqueuse 1:55

IVe Suite
22. La Veloutée 2:08
23. L:Indeterminée 1:48
24. La Frenetique 1:53
25. La Brunette 5:43

Michel Corrette
from Premier Livre de Pieces de Clavecin

Troisieme Suite
26. Prelude 1:31
27. L’Heroïne 2:25
28. La degourdie 5:08
29. Les Botes de Sept lieues 2:04
30. Les Etoiles 2:35

Total running time 1:14:21

Artist info

Robin Bigwood is a UK-based harpsichordist and music technologist who works with many leading period instrument orchestras and ensembles both as a soloist and continuo player, and teaches at Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.


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