Alan Curtis (harpsichord) Louis Couperin, Pièces de clavecin

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Louis Couperin (ca.1626~1661) Pièces de clavecin
Released 1976 by Polydor, Archiv Production 2533 325
Recording: Paris, Salons Hoche, 1.-2. 10. 1975
Production: Andreas Holschneider
Recording Supervisor and Recording Engineer: Heinz Wildhagen
Edition: Louis Couperin, Pieces de clavecin, ed. A. Curtis. Heugel & Cie, Paris (1970), Edition Le pupitre 18
Harpsichord signed “D. F.”; 17th century, private collection, Paris lent by its owner, Monsieur Yannick Guillou, Paris. The instrument has recently been restored as nearly as possible to its original condition by Johannes Carda of Varennes Jarcy
Thanks to Daniël, who let me browse the famous Daniël Beuman harpsichord collection (my copy was damaged too much).

Seite/Side/Face 1
Suite in G minor · en sol mineur
00:00 Prelude 3’36
03:35 Allemande 2’51
06:25 Courante 1’44
08:11 Passacaille 5’17
13:26 Chaconne 1’43

Suite in D major · en re majeur
15:14 Prelude 3’02
18:15 Allemande 4’22
22:34 Courante 1’20
23:54 Sarabande 1’42
25:37 Chaconne 2’27
Gesamtzeit mit Pausen: 28’26

Seite/Side/Face 2
Suite in A minor· en la mineur
28:09 Prelude a l’imitation de Mr Froberger 6’00
34:06 Allemande l’Amiable 2’22
36:27 Courante dite La Mignonne 1’15
37:44 Seconde Courante 1’48
39:32 Sarabande 2’35
42:06 La Piemontaise 1’44

Suite in F major· en fa majeur
43:54 Prelude 2’23
46:17 Allemande grave 3’20
49:35 Courante 1’15
50:50 Branle de Basque 0’56
51:48 Chaconne 3’05
Gesamtzeit mit Pausen: 27’03

The Harpsichord
The instrument u~ed for this recording is
a two-manual harpsichord of the second
half of the seventeenth century, graciously
lent by its owner, Monsieur Yannick
Guillou, Paris. It has the usual push-pull
coupler, with two unisons and an octave.
The compass, which is original, is four
octaves and a fourth, with GG short
octave and one split key (apparent
compass BB – c”‘, with low BB sounding
GG, C-sharp AA, and the front half of
the split E-flat tuned either BB or BB-flat).
In the gilt rose, the initials “D. F.”, of a
maker not yet identified, appear on each
side of a winged angel playing a lyre. In
the second edition (1974) of Donald
Boalch’s Makers of the HarpsiChord and
ClaviChord, this instrument is listed not
only under “F., D.” but also, with a slightly
varying description, under “E.,D.”, with
the remark that the E could be read as an F.
The maker was probably French, to judge
from the bracing, the scaling (shorter than
the Flemish), the walnut wrest-plank, and
the staggered wrest-pins. The exterior
decoration, of excellent quality, would
also appear to be French: colorful grotesqueries
on a black ground; with Orpheus
playing a pardessus de viole and, inside a
circular garland, a group of instrumentalists,
singers and conductor, dressed in
costumes of the later Louis XIV period,
gathered around a table under a chandelier.
There are also some Flemish elements,
however, in the general dimensions, the
bent-side curve, and the interior decoration
– especially the gilt rose, the painted
soundboard, and the landscape on the lid,
almost-certainly by a Flemish painter. The
instrument has recently been restored as
nearly as possible to its original condition
by Johannes Carda of Varennes Jarcy.
For this recording we have used the normal
meantone tuning of the era (all major
thirds are pun:), as recommended and
described by’, among others, Jean Denis,
Traite de l’accord de l’espinette (1643 and
1650, facsimile reprint edited by A. Curtis,
Da Capo Press, New York, 1969). A small
amount of re-tuning is necessary for
certain suites – for instance, our D-major
pieces require A-sharp instead of B-flatsbut
Louis Couperin basically never calls
for enharmonics. In our long G-minor
Passacaille he does use both E-flats and
D-sharps, but the latter occur only three
times, and always as a dissonance.

Alan Curtis

#JohannesCarda #AlanCurtis

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