Hank Knox

D'Anglebert: Pièces de clavecin

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Quebecois harpsichordist Hank Knox makes a virtue out of the supposed shortcomings of the music of J. Henry d'Anglebert, a court composer at Versailles in the late seventeenth century. The harpsichord suite selections heard here were published in 1689, and they have neither the majesty of d'Anglebert's predecessors nor the intensity of his successor Couperin. The "clavecytherium" mentioned and pictured on the cover is a little less unusual than the imposing name suggests; it is a vertical-standing harpsichord whose purpose was unclear. Annotator Yves Beaupré dismisses without explanation the idea that it might have been intended as a space-saver, but the rooms at Versailles, despite the scale of the whole, are not large. Each of the three suites excerpted here begins with a prelude in free rhythm and a quasi-improvised style. Knox's notes go into quite a bit of detail about these, touching on such matters as how d'Anglebert's notation differs from that used by other composers. He also helps the listener put the music in context in more general ways. His portrait of evening music-making at Versailles could serve as a useful corrective for players and engineers who mike Baroque harpsichords closely and try to create a severe atmosphere of quiet: the music room, he points out, competed for attention with those devoted to dancing, gambling, and, of course, the buffet. "Those in attendance were invited to drift from room to room," he writes, "partaking of all the offerings." His playing and the associated engineering emphasize the lightness and melodicism of d'Anglebert's suites, which several times (at least in these excerpts) present two of the same dance in a row, in contrasting tempos and moods. The notes go into detail about d'Anglebert's influence as a codifier of ornamentation (which touched J.S. Bach, among others), and there's a certain grace in Knox's playing that comes from deep familiarity with ornamentation procedures. Not an essential purchase, but a release of plenty of interest for those whose acquaintance with the French Baroque keyboard style runs beyond the casual.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1
3:55
2
3:22
3
2:18
4
3:26
5
2:12
6
1:39
7
5:34
8
1:33
9
3:28
10
1:44
11
1:31
12
1:37
13
2:28
14
1:48
15
1:41
16
3:55
17
2:24
18
2:40
19
1:59
20
3:14
21
1:59
22
2:06
23
2:43
24
2:09
25
3:47
26
3:43
27
1:38
28
4:05
blue highlight denotes track pick