Home listening: Leclair, Louis Couperin and back to Bach Night
Old meets new with Leila Schayegh and Rinaldo Alessandrini, while Nico Muhly and co take on Bach at the Proms
• Two very fine recordings of music by lesser-known composers show how neglected works can be elevated by deep, thoughtful performances. Jean-Marie Leclair (1697-1764) is known for his opera Scylla et Glaucus and for his mysteriously violent death in a seedy quarter of Paris. His great skill was as a player and composer for the violin, bringing together the Italian and French styles, the virtuosity of Vivaldi and the elegance of Rameau, in a dazzling set of concertos. Leila Schayegh and the small baroque ensemble La Cetra have revived four of them from his Op 7 and Op 10 Concertos for Violin (Glossa), with delicate, precise colours and shimmering, playful textures. Every detail is considered and explained in the booklet, from the choice of French pitch to the type of bow hair used. Absorbing and brilliant.
• From the previous century of French music, equally thorough in its research and thinking, comes keyboardist Rinaldo Alessandrini’s Louis Couperin: [Suites] (Naive). The careful square brackets indicate that Couperin did not himself gather these pieces into the collected suites or ordres that would become familiar from his nephew François Couperin. Alessandrini has shaped them into three satisfying sequences of dance movements, each beginning with Louis’s trademark, an unmeasured prelude notated without rhythm. The dark colours and resonant harpsichord sound are alluring, echoing Saint-Évremond’s contemporary treatise: “Passion must be fully displayed, but never exaggerated.”Continue reading...