Jill Crossland

Jean-Philippe Rameau: Pieces for Keyboard

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Jean-Philippe Rameau's keyboard works are perhaps better suited to the piano than those of any other Baroque keyboard composer. They depend less than do those of Couperin on harpsichord-specific ornamentation, and they have a restless experimental spirit that convinces you Rameau would have been intrigued to hear them this way. Interpretations on the piano range from murky, heavily pedaled readings of chromatic pieces to crisp versions that make the piano essentially a harpsichord stand-in. The advantage of this modest but pleasing release by British pianist Jill Crossland is that it individuates Rameau's works. In the opening Premier Livre de Pièces de Clavecin set, Crossland makes Rameau sound almost Bachian, with clean lines that emphasize the intricate counterpoint that Rameau worked into French dances and that immediately distinguished his work from that of Couperin. In the two suites of pieces from the Pièces de clavecin avec une méthode sur la mécanique des Doigts (1724), she ramps up the piano's expressive capacity considerably, adding lots of pedal to the unusual folkish dances like the Musette en rondeau (track 16) and Tambourin (track 17), and running with the representational quality of the sharply contrasting portraits in the Suite in D. Sample La Joyeuse (The Joyous Girl, track 24) and La Follette (The Mad Girl, track 25): Crossland never overdoes it, but she gives a sense of the development of Rameau's style in these small but beautifully wrought works. The church sonics are not quite right for the music but not objectionable.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Premier Livre de Pièces de Clavecin
1 2:51
2 4:08
3 1:59
4 1:41
5 2:36
6 2:22
7 1:31
8 1:19
9 1:18
10 4:03
11 1:31
12 1:34
13 1:58
14 2:54
15 2:24
16 2:09
17 1:20
18 3:41
19 3:16
Les Niais de Sologne (The Simpletons of Sologne) & 2 Doubles (Pièces de Clavecin avec une méthode sur la mécanique des Doigts)
20 2:06
21 1:48
22 2:31
23 4:42
24 1:06
25 1:23
26 5:18
27 0:53
28 2:13
29 0:58
30 3:08
blue highlight denotes track pick