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Classical Music Review

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French Connections
17th Century Harpsichord Music


Composers: Louis Couperin, François Couperin and Antoine Forqueray
Performed by: Jonathan Rhodes Lee (harpsichord)
Label: Navona Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 10 December 2021

Navona Records presents French Connections, a new album of French works for harpsichord performed by Jonathan Rhodes Lee. The pieces selected for this collection celebrate the small, tight-knit pantheon of 17th-century French harpsichordists who helped shape the instrument’s repertoire. While the total output of these composers would make for countless hours of listening, French Connections offers a taste of this expansive body of work. Music by Louis Couperin (c. 1626-1661), François Couperin (1668-1733) and Antoine Forqueray (1672-1745) comes alive through masterful performances by Lee, with recordings engineered and mastered by multiple GRAMMY-winning classical music producer Brad Michel...

Jonathan Rhodes Lee brings the 14 pieces (51 min, 03 sec) on French Connections vividly to life. The lifetime of the three composers here spans 1626-1745 and it's interesting to note than in over 100 years of compositions very little changed. Similar motifs and themes are echoed throughout the works on display here - even though the actual pieces are very different in their presentation. And the usual musical flourishes that are associated with harpsichord music are ever present.

Lee does a remarkable job of transporting the listener back in time. You almost feel like you're in the home of some aristocrat who is performing each piece for a select gathering of friends.

If you're not a fan of the sound of the harpsichord... First of all, what is wrong with you, and secondly there's probably nothing here to change your mind. Everyone else will totally fall in love with Lee's performance.

Track listing:

Louis Couperin
01, Pieces in F: Prélude (2:42)
02. Pieces in F: Allemande Grave (3:55)
03. Pieces in F: Courante (1:31)
04. Pieces in F: Branle De Basque (0:41)
05. Pieces in F: Chaconne (3:11)

François Couperin
06. 17th ordre: La Superbe, Ou La Forqueray (5:14)
07. 17th ordre: Les Petits Moulins À Vent (2:04)
08. 17th ordre: Les Timbres (3:02)
09. 17th ordre: Courante (2:43)
10. 17th ordre: Les Petites Chrémiéres De Bagnolet (2:09)

Antoine Forqueray, arr. Jean-Baptiste Forqueray
11. Selections from Suite no. 5: La Rameau (4:47)
12. Selections from Suite no. 5: La Boisson (5:17)
13. Selections from Suite no. 5: La Sylva (6:10)
14. Selections from Suite no. 5: Jupiter (7:42)


Darren Rea

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