François Couperin's collection of four instrumental suites was published in 1722 as Les Concerts Royaux, so titled because they were composed for the court of Louis XIV. Despite his clarity in notation and precise instructions for ornamentation, Couperin did not indicate the instrumentation, leaving performances to either a solo keyboard player or a small group of instrumentalists with basso continuo. This recording by the period ensemble I Fiori Musicali presents them as works for chamber ensemble, employing voice flute, soprano recorder, bassoon, viola da gamba, and harpsichord. The suites consist of preludes and stylized dance pieces -- allemandes, courantes, sarabandes, gavottes, gigues, and menuets -- which were common in French and German music of the period. However, these suites lack the quirky character and bizarre elements of Couperin's ordres for harpsichord, which are better known. This 2017 release, the group's second album on Urania, is an intimate interpretation that presents Couperin's music with elegance and polish, and the recording is quite close to the musicians, so no details are lost. Highly recommended for fans of Baroque chamber music and Couperin addicts.
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AllMusic Review by Blair Sanderson
|Les Concerts Royaux|