Bertrand Cuiller

François Couperin L'Alchimiste: Un petit théâtre du monde - Complete Works for Keyboard, Vol. 1

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The title of the first volume in Bertrand Cuiller's projected series on Harmonia Mundi, François Couperin L'Alchimiste: Un petit théâtre du monde, hints at the background of these French Baroque pieces for harpsichord, which were often inspired by the colorful society surrounding the composer. Couperin's titles have always intrigued listeners with their mysterious allusions, and the teasing quality of the music often reveals a quirky sense of humor, though the titles and musical images point to a tradition that extended from Renaissance literature and the practices of the French lute school: to make a piece emblematic of some person, object, or quality by giving it a symbolic title. While there may be some connection with the arcane practices of alchemy mentioned in the title, one may be excused for thinking that the representations and transformations are more essential and interesting in a purely musical sense to listeners today. Cuiller performs to a modern audience, and his playing in these recordings is remarkably agile, sparkling, and vibrant, with a feeling for Couperin's whimsy that makes any literary or historical discussions seem speculative and beside the point. Couperin's dances and character pieces are indeed evocative of another time, though Cuiller's skillful performances demonstrate a thorough knowledge and deep affection for them that makes a special kind of artistic alchemy. This is a brilliant start for this series, and Cuiller's next volume is eagerly anticipated.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Onziéme Ordre (C) Second Livre de piéces de clavecin
1 03:08 Amazon
2 01:40 Amazon
3 02:52 Amazon
4 03:35 Amazon
5 08:08 Amazon
Vingt-septiéme ordre (B minor) Quatriéme Livre de piéces de clavecin
6 04:32 Amazon
7 06:57 Amazon
8 03:05 Amazon
9 02:31 Amazon
Dixneuviéme ordre (D), Troisiéme Livre de piéces de clavecin
10 03:00 Amazon
11 02:42 Amazon
12 04:17 Amazon
13 02:35 Amazon
14 02:20 Amazon
15 01:56 Amazon

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
Dixneuviéme ordre (F), Piéces de clavecin, Premier Livre
1 02:33 Amazon
Quatrième ordre (F), Piéces de clavecin, Premier Livre
2 01:46 Amazon
3 04:00 Amazon
4 02:11 Amazon
5 04:45 Amazon
6 03:38 Amazon
Troisiême ordre (C), Pièces de clavecin, Premier Livre
7 03:52 Amazon
8 01:29 Amazon
9 02:01 Amazon
10 02:52 Amazon
11 00:54 Amazon
12 00:54 Amazon
13 03:16 Amazon
14 04:16 Amazon
15 01:32 Amazon
16 04:41 Amazon
17 02:34 Amazon
18 04:23 Amazon
19 01:53 Amazon
Uingtieme ordre (G) Quatriéme Livre de piéces de clavecin
20 02:53 Amazon
21 01:48 Amazon
22 03:07 Amazon
23 04:38 Amazon
24 04:13 Amazon
25 02:27 Amazon
26 01:28 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick