One of the lesser-known composers of the mid 18th-century, Turin-born Joseph-Nicolas-Pancrace Royer relocated to Paris, where he earned a reputation as a formidable harpsichordist. He was in the service of Louis XV for many years, and wrote many operas and ballets for the court at Versailles, later becoming administrator of the Concert Spirituel. Royer’s style is a perfect fusion of Italian melos and French freedom, as expressed in the elaborate ornamentation and rhythmic fluctuations.
Royer’s harpsichord works bear the hallmarks of his work in the musical theatre. In a preface to the Premier Livre de Pièces pour Clavecin, the composer states that the ‘pieces are open to great variety, passing from the tender to the lively, from the simple to the tumultuous, often successively within the same piece’. They also show the impact of his work in the musical theatre, with several being arrangements of instrumental numbers from his operas. The lilting La Zaïde – with L’Aimable, La Sensible and Les Tendres Sentiments – is an example of a ‘tender’ piece, with the latter particularly notable thanks its rhythmic freedom. Several pieces can be described as ‘tumultuous’, in particular the relentlessly energetic and demanding La Marche des Scythes, and the changeable L’Incertaine lives up to its title, not conforming to a specific definition.
Yago Mahugo, prizewinner at the International Harpsichord Competition and at the Bruggen Competition (Belgium), leads an active concert life and has performed in many of the most prestigious concert halls and festivals throughout Europe and the USA.
- CD PREMIERE: For the first time on disc the complete keyboard music of Royer.
- Recorded in 2011 on a harpsichord after Johannes Ruckers, Antwerp 1638.
- Played on a magnificent copy of a Ruckers instrument .
- Contains notes on the composer and works.
- Contains a biography of the artist.