François Couperin ‘Le Grand’ is the most important member of the Couperin dynasty, whose elegant and trend-setting music is known to have influenced great composers such as J.S. Bach, Telemann and Handel. After becoming organist at St. Gervais in Paris at the age of just 12, he was later appointed Organiste du Chapelle du Roy.
It was here that he composed the Concerts Royaux and the Gouts-Réunis (or Nouveaux Concerts) for the entertainment of the aging King Louis XIV. Each includes the florid ornamentation typical of the French Baroque and is extremely adaptable, essentially written for a treble and bass instrument and continuo. They appeared in the same volume as Couperin’s third harpsichord book, and the writing of several has a strong harpsichord feel, suggesting that solo performance on this instrument was also a possibility. The fourteen Concerts vary in style, containing elements of both the French and Italian tradition, but all are testament to the sophistication and decadence of Versailles in the 18th century. The Eighth Concert ‘dans le goût théâtral’ is undoubtedly a highlight: a tribute to Jean-Baptiste Lully, beginning with an opulent French overture and ‘Grand Ritournelle’ and continuing with eight further varied movements.
The Concerts are brought to you by Jed Wentz’s Musica Ad Rhenum, which has earned a dedicated following in early music circles. With an active concert life and an impressive catalogue of recordings, this group has sought to bring Baroque music to the modern world, proving that it is as inspiring and relevant today as it was in its own era.
Period-instrument recording, made in 2004 (The Netherlands).
The performances of Musica ad Rhenum and Jed Wentz are in the best tradition of the Historically Informed Practice, lively, quasi-improvisatory and with swift but flexible tempi.
Contains notes on the composer as well as artist/ensemble biographies.