Composed for the Sunday concerts of the aging Louis XIV, François Couperin's Concerts Royaux are as good as it gets for French Baroque chamber music. The lightness, the tenderness, the elegance, the etherealness, and, above all, the endearing poetry and enduring musicality of Couperin's works are as ingratiating today as they were 300 years ago. This is particularly true in this AliaVox recording by the international Le Concert des Nations led by bass violist Jordi Savall. One of the deepest and subtlest of all living musicians, Savall's interpretations are warmly affectionate, wittily humorous, wonderfully musical, and profoundly poetic. Savall and his players perform Couperin's four suites with a sympathy that passes into empathy and an understanding that becomes identification. As in the best jazz ensembles, one never senses a distinction between music and musician, but rather the complete unity of both. One could point out endless felicities -- the expressiveness of phrases, the phrasing of lines, the nuances of harmonies, the gracefulness of rhythms -- but it is the poetic unanimity of the playing that is most impressive. While there have been superlative recordings of Le Concert des Nations in the past -- one thinks of Monica Huggett's superb Trio Sonniere recording on ASV -- this recording will surely be the benchmark for years to come. AliaVox's digital sound is full, round, open, and easily as good as the best by any label in the world.
AllMusic Review by James Leonard
|Premier concert, for harpsichord (or violin, flute, oboe, viol & bassoon) in G major (Concerts royaux)|
|Deuxième concert, for harpsichord (or violin, flute, oboe, viol & bassoon) in D major (Concerts royaux)|
|Troisième concert, for harpsichord (or violin, flute, oboe, viol & bassoon) in A major (Concerts royaux)|
|Quatrième concert, for harpsichord (or violin, flute, oboe, viol & bassoon) in E minor (Concerts royaux)|