COUPERIN Pièces de violes
Couperin’s E minor Suite for bass viol and continuo is possibly the most beautiful work for the instrument. We have many fine early recordings of the two Couperin Suites by Jordi Savall (1976), Wieland Kuijken (1992), Nima Ben David (2000), Mikko Perkola, Philippe Pierlot (both 2008) and, most recently, Paolo Pandolfo and Lorenz Duftschmid (2013). Now, Atsushi Sakaï, who so impressed us with his Forqueray set (5/16), brings warmth and an immaculate, elegant, rhetorical and compelling vision to these works.
Sakaï benefits from just the right support from Christophe Rousset and Marion Martineau (who apparently retunes her viol in the E minor Sarabande for one low G in bar 11!). They are joined by Isabelle Saint Yves, delightfully blending their instruments in Couperin’s nostalgic Plainte and a bewitchingly beautiful suite of pieces by Antoine Forqueray – three of which were found in a manuscript in Lille and the fourth, a whimsical La girouette (‘Weathervane’), surviving as a solo in a Paris manuscript and arranged here for a trio. The Forqueray suite has also been recorded by Vittorio Ghielmi (Passacaille, 2014) and Justin Taylor, who transcribed it for solo harpsichord (Alpha, 11/16). The inclusion of the Forqueray pieces on this disc highlights the known professional connections between the Couperins and the Forquerays.
Sakaï’s faithfully rendered performances of the Couperin suites, especially when compared with those of the more independently minded, Forqueraian Pandolfo, suggest the warmer, more measured approach and sensibilities of Marin Marais. Couperin was equally well acquainted with Marais (his Versailles colleague and Paris neighbour) who died in 1728, the year in which Couperin issued the suites, and the ‘Pompe funèbre’ of the D minor Suite, sublimely interpreted here, is often mentioned as his tribute to Marais. A ravishing disc!