Rameau - Pieces de Clavecin en Concerts

Posted By MiOd On Saturday, July 27, 2013 Under
In composing his Pièces de clavecin en concerts, Rameau (1683-1764) created a grand work of chamber music, and at the same time, the first-ever piano trios. The independence of the instrumental parts achieved here far surpasses what Haydn, Mozart and even Beethoven did in their piano trios. It is not until Schubert that we meet with trio writing of comparably elaborate texture. Trio Arcangelo Corelli formed in 1984. At first they worked intensely on early Italian violin music, especially on Corelli’s sonatas, and therefore chose the great Roman master as their "patron saint." Based in Düsseldorf, they have given innumerable concerts and made radio and CD recordings.

The great French Baroque composer Jean-Phillipe Rameau (1683 -- 1764) is best-known for his operas and for his music for the solo harpsichord. Rameau composed only one work of chamber music, the "Pieces De Clavecin En Concerts", but it is a masterwork. The work was originally scored for harpsichord, violin, and viola da gamba, although it was subsequently arranged for many other combinations. It is performed here in its original instrumentation by the Trio Arcangelo Corelli, a period instrument ensemble from Dusseldorf, Germany. The disk is available on Arte Nova at a budget price.

Rameau worked on the Pieces de Clavecin from 1737 -- 1741, while he had already begun composing the operas that would make him famous. The work was inspired by the sonatas for violin and harpsichord by a now-forgotten composer, Jean-Joseph Casanea de Mondonville. The Pieces consists of six separate Concerts, with the second having four movements and the remaining five concerts three movements. The work represents a break with earlier French chamber works in that Rameau gave equal roles to the three instruments. In particular, Rameau gave a large part to the harpsichord which in earlier ensembles tended to be limited to an accompaniment role.

As with virtually all music of the French Baroque, Rameau's Pieces are heavily derived from dance forms. The movements consist of roneaux, minuets, tamborins, and airs. There is only one movement of fugue in the Pieces, the opening movement of the sixth concert.

Each concert is a highly integrated work with the individual movement complementing and contrasting with each other. The music is filled with elegance and grace and with changes of tempos, moods and rhythms from movement to movement.

Each individual movement has a non-musical title, either the name of a person or a descriptive title, such as "the Excursion", (Concert 1, 3d movement), "Gossip" (Concert 4, 2d movement), or "Timidity" (Concert 3, 2d movement). But I found this music almost "pure" in character. The music has sway, lilt, and song that make the movement titles of little import.

Rameau wrote beautifully for his ensemble with each of the three instruments having solo moments and moments of intricate group playing. The harpsichord part is especially lovely with long runs and melodies alternating with spiky, sharp rhythmic material. Some of the individual movements that stood out were the lovely air gracieux, (Concert 2, second movement), the rhythmic tamborin (Concert 3, 3d movement), the movement titled "La Rameau", apparently after the composer himself, (Concert 5, 3d movement), and the entire Concert 6 with its opening fugue, lovely slow movement, and lively conclusion.

Lovers of the French Baroque will enjoy this rare chamber music of Rameau. Listeners who want to begin to explore this music will find the low price and the informative program notes to this CD appealing.

(01). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 1. Premier Concert- 1. La Coulicam
(02). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 1. Premier Concert- 2. La Livri
(03). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 1. Premier Concert- 3. Le Vézinet
(04). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 2. Deuxième Concert- 1. La Laborde
(05). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 2. Deuxième Concert- 2. La Boucon
(06). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 2. Deuxième Concert- 3. L'Agaçante
(07). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 2. Deuxième Concert- 4. Premier menuet en ron...
(08). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 3. Troisième Concert- 1. La La Ploplinière
(09). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 3. Troisième Concert- 2. La Timide, Premier r...
(10). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 3. Troisième Concert- 2. Premier tambourin en...
(11). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 4. Quatrième Concert- 1. La Pantomime
(12). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 4. Quatrième Concert- 2. L'Indiscrète
(13). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 4. Quatrième Concert- 3. La Rameau
(14). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 5. Cinquième Concert- 1. La Forqueray
(15). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 5. Cinquième Concert- 2. La Cupis
(16). Pièces de Clavecin en Concerts- 5. Cinquième Concert- 3. La Marais

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