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François Couperin: Keyboard Music, Vol. 3
Francois Couperin, Angela Hewitt
François Couperin: Keyboard Music, Vol. 3
Genre: Classical
  •  Track Listings (30) - Disc #1

Angela Hewitt is best known for her excellent Bach recordings, but in her less-comprehensive series of Couperin's works written for the harpsichord she matches that high standard. Fans of the French Baroque will know this ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Francois Couperin, Angela Hewitt
Title: François Couperin: Keyboard Music, Vol. 3
Members Wishing: 2
Total Copies: 0
Label: Hyperion UK
Original Release Date: 1/1/2005
Re-Release Date: 11/8/2005
Album Type: Import
Genre: Classical
Styles: Chamber Music, Forms & Genres, Short Forms, Historical Periods, Baroque (c.1600-1750), Classical (c.1770-1830), Instruments, Keyboard
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 034571175201

Angela Hewitt is best known for her excellent Bach recordings, but in her less-comprehensive series of Couperin's works written for the harpsichord she matches that high standard. Fans of the French Baroque will know this music and may need to adjust to the sound of the piano. But the open-minded will be captivated by her buoyant playing and by her refusal to imitate the harpsichord. Instead, she brings the resources of the modern concert grand to bear on these stylized scores--"authenticity" becomes irrelevant to the immense pleasure generated. Hewitt's ornamentation is stylishly convincing, as is her wit, attention to detail, and beautiful tonal production. She plays all of the Treizième Ordre and a generous selection of pieces from Couperin's other works, focusing on those she believes work best on the piano. The captivating result makes one sorry that, as she writes in her lucid notes, this will be the last of her Couperin series. Hyperion's vibrant sound does full justice to Hewitt's colorful playing. -- Dan Davis

CD Reviews

More French Baroque music on piano
Alan Lekan | Boulder, CO | 12/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)

"With this third volume, Angela Hewitt concludes her survey of Couperin's major keyboard music and proves that, in the hands of someone as steeped in Baroque keyboard style as herself, music which was previously thought the exclusive domain of the harpsichordist can be expressed on modern piano to great effect. Considering the emotional range and depth inherent in Couperin's music, it is not surprising that much of this music takes quite well to the broader expressive range and nuances of the modern piano.

So how does this third and last CD compare? In Volume I, we had mostly Couperin's earlier works of great granduer, inventiveness, pure charm and full of sunny, dancing melodies. Then in Volume II (the late works) the landscape darkened a bit with Couperin's most personal expressions of touching poignancy and deep melancholy. Volume III here is a mixture of these moods and showcases the imaginative 13th Ordre with its creative mimicking of twelve characters from a masked ball (of the era of Louis XIV) along with several wonderfully ponderous pieces in true Couperin poetry.

Not only is Hewitt's survey of Couperin's music here rather ground-breaking (given few if any recordings done on the piano for them), but it also sets a high standard. Hewitt's gingerly touch, knack for dance rhythms and poetic depth are well-suited to Couperin's graceful, inventive and sadness-tinged music. Right from the rhythmic opening movement and its "tripping" theme, Miss Hewitt sets a delightful and confident attitide towards this music. In the next two gentle pieces, her lyrical depths emerge to meld with Couperin's melancholic intent. This same emotive playing finds its home in several moving, introspective works (tracks 19, 21 and 26) suggestive of the composer's deep yearings and sadness (from perhaps his health struggles). In all these, Miss Hewitt seems to really find the emotional core and present it to us with great nuance, tenderness and artistry.

But, soon the fun and frolic begins with "Les Folies Francoises" - a delightful and imaginative miniature "theme-and-variations" ordre in which each variation parodies some virture or emotion (hope, jealousy, fidelity, despair etc). As such it is truly early "programmic music" - as is most of Couperin's music with their odd titles. In the masked ball parody, Hewitt covers the range of expressive textures brilliantly - from the festivity in the "Couquetry" piece to the dark moodiness of "Jealousy" played in the lower half of the keyboad. As the pianist quotes in her abundant notes, "This work is a microcosm of Couperin's art, its tragic passion, its whitty urbanity, its sensuous charm." Indeed.

Once again here we see Miss Hewitt's mastery of the composer and his music - most notably her scrupulous attention to detail to Couperin's precise score notations. Her skill in these most-important ornamentations show both a well-studied approach and fine taste, integrating them into the tapestry of the music smoothly and attractively. As such, her playing really has a more gentle, feminine quality in its appeal. Hewitt certainly makes a strong case for this music on piano, especially the greater nuance of expression afforded the piano in the slower movements. While some insist this music is best suited for the harpsichord, but it is hard to resist this artist's ability to produce music of such expressive charm, tonal beauty and pianistic richness. Her emphasis on such tonal beauty is once again fully supported by Hyperion who produced a sparkling clear and bright sound quality (much like Volume II) with richly developed timbre from her Steinway in an attractive, mildly resonant recording ambiance.

There is a refreshing quality in all Hewitt's Couperin recordings that makes them some of my favorite to play throughout the day. They are easy on the ear, yet musically rich and satisfying. Fans of Angela Hewitt or the French Baroque should find more of a good thing here in Hewitt's third Couperin CD and much to celebrate. Also her voluminous and very useful accompanying notes to guide you along add to the attractiveness of this release. And the cover art is particular sumptuous as well. Composition - 4.5 stars; Performance - 5 stars; Sound quality - 4.5 stars.

And continuing in the tradition of French keyboard music, Angela Hewitt has since recorded works by Emmanuel Chabrier and Rameau - both on the Hyperion label. Throw in two well-received Beethoven CDs in 2007, and we now see one of our era's great pianists come to true fullness."
Endlessly delightful
Eric A. Politzer | San Francisco | 03/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"While I agree that these selections do not match the grandeur of Hewitt's previous recording, they do exude as much -- if not more -- charm and elegance as ever before. Hewitt's playing is nimble, delicate, lucid, and heartfelt. Amazingly coupled with the grace and fluidity of the performances is a captivating touchingness and melancholy. The only disappointment for me is that this is the end of the cycle. Would that there were more!!"
Beautiful music, played by a great pianist......
WoodyWW | Massachusetts | 10/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Oh yes, & the sound quality is terrific as well. One of the best-recorded "Redbook" CD's I've ever heard on my fairly "high end" audio system.

If you don't know Couperin, & you're a music lover, then you have to get acquainted. I've been listening to J.S. Bach (& attempting to play some) for 30 years, & of course every human in their right mind loves Bach, & knows that Bach is (one of) the Greatest Composer/Musicians in history.

But this is on a different level than Bach. It's more intimate. You could make a case that it's more "soulful", if not as technically impressive.

Just buy any one of the 3 Angela Hewitt Couperin CD''ll be very thankful....beautiful music, beautifully recorded, by a great artist, on a great label."