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Couperin Dynasty

Couperin Dynasty

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Admiration for the French composer, harpsichordist and organist, Louis Couperin continues to grow steadily today, but it was not so during his lifetime. The first important edition of his work in modern times, in its latest revision by Thurston Dart (used for this set), catalogues 129 pieces as authentic. Collectively, they help to place Couperin among the greatest composers of the 17th century alongside Frescobaldi, Chambonnieres, Froberger, and D’Anglebert.

Though he wrote religious works as well as chamber music, harpsichord music forms the lion’s share of Louis’s nephew François Couperin’s output: 235 pieces in all, most of them published in the four volumes (or Livres) of Pièces de Clavecin, divided into 27 ordres.

Like the better-known Jacques Duphly and Claude Balbastre, Armand-Louis Couperin belongs to the last generation of French harpsichord composers. The modesty and success which profited Armand-Louis handsomely during his lifetime rather dimmed the light of his creative legacy. He published little during his own lifetime. One of only a few opuses, the magnificent volume of Pièces de clavecin deserves consideration alongside the viol fantazias of Purcell and the Lachrymae of Dowland, examples of lateness in music, where the fruit has ripened beyond high summer, yet there is much of interest in these pieces, beyond their historical value at the end of a distinguished family line.

Armand-Louis’s son, Gervais-François Couperin, studied with his father then replaced him at the Sainte-Chapelle organ. His keyboard compositions reveal a profound understanding of the delicate nuances and expressive capabilities of the harpsichord, characterized by elegance, refinement and meticulous attention to ornamentation. Yet Gervais-François was also a virtuoso on the new instrument of his day, the fortepiano, and this set features his music performed on that keyboard of greatly expanded expressivity.

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  • Release Specifications

    • Number of Discs: 19
    • Release Date:
    • Label: Brilliant Classics
    • UPC/Barcode: 5028421970516
    • Item Number: BRI97051