Karen Flint

Le Clavecin Français: Elizabeth Jacquet de la Guerre's Complete Works for Harpsichord

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Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre (the "de la Guerre" was her married name) was one of the preeminent female composers of the Baroque, but her music has generally been sampled rather than thoroughly explored on recordings. That begins to change here with this release by American harpsichordist Karen Flint, playing an attractive 1627 Ruckers instrument. Released by the small Plectrum label in Delaware, the album marks an important accomplishment for American early music. De la Guerre published two collections of keyboard music, noteworthy at the time for any composer, male or female. This was doubtless due to the influence of her main patron, Louis XIV, but the music itself also played a role. De la Guerre was famed as an improviser, and unlike with other Baroque preludes you really get a sense of what she sounded like from the preludes (or in one case a "tocade") that open each set of pieces here. They are unmeasured, and they're filled with chains of suspensions that leave the listener deliciously uncertain as to what will happen next. After that come sets of dances, all in the same key. De la Guerre's music lacks the contrapuntal complexity of, say, François Couperin, and the faster dances don't have the ripe clusters of ornamented dissonance nor the subtle characterizations of the mature French harpsichord school. But her music always has a pleasingly logical, organic quality that brings Bach to mind, and the preludes are unlike much else in the repertory. Flint plays these to the hilt. Recommended for those interested in Baroque keyboard music or in music by women.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
Pieces in D (Les Pièces de Clavessin, 1687)
1 3:01
2 3:33
3 2:02
4 1:40
5 2:37
6 1:54
7 2:05
8 3:46
9 1:06
Pieces in G (Les Pièces de Clavessin, 1687)
10 2:49
11 2:59
12 1:58
13 1:53
14 2:55
15 1:43
16 1:54
17 1:30
Pieces in A (Les Pièces de Clavessin, 1687)
18 2:18
19 2:57
20 1:54
21 1:57
22 2:54
23 1:42
24 3:49
25 1:22
26 1:39
Pieces in F (Les Pièces de Clavessin, 1687)
27 3:07
28 3:02
29 1:37
30 2:04
31 2:53
32 1:47
33 1:42
34 1:29
blue highlight denotes track pick