La famille Forqueray: Portrait(s)
In recent years it has become commonplace to attribute the 1747 Forqueray Pièces (issued in two versions – one for bass viol, the other for harpsichord) mainly to the son, Jean-Baptiste, who published after his father Antoine’s death. This superbly conceived and produced debut recording suggests we should think again.
Even the young, Franco-American harpsichordist Justin Taylor himself attributes the two 1747 suites on this disc– at least in their final form – to Jean-Baptiste Forqueray. Yet Taylor’s own polished arrangement of a manuscript three-movement Suite pour trois violes by ‘Monsieur Forcroy’ (an earlier spelling often used to refer to Antoine) – if it is indeed by the father and not the son – bears many of the same musical fingerprints. Within the ingratiating Allemande lurks a popular song. The seductive Courante has such exuberance and momentum that evokes the mercurial Antoine. The piquant harmonic progressions in the poetic Sarabande presage those found in the 1747 suites. Viol scholars think of these pieces as less technically demanding than those of the 1747 collection. Taylor, having carefully studied the latter, has nevertheless ensured that the former are similarly styled. Some might say that, like Jean-Baptiste, he has muddied the waters; others will feel he has realised the music’s potential.
The disc opens appropriately with an unpretentious but nevertheless accomplished unmeasured Prelude, also attributed to Antoine, then follows it with a thoughtfully commanding performance of the first 1747 suite. Two aspects of his interpretation stand out: the breathtaking range and subtlety of his rubato and the unexpected slivers of rhetorical silence he deftly inserts. The final movement of the suite, ‘La Couperin’, is juxtaposed with Couperin’s own keyboard portrait of Antoine, though here Taylor respectfully curbs his inégalité. Duphly’s exquisite homage to Jean-Baptiste (and the 1747 collection) leads on to the Forquerays’ monumental Fifth Suite, played with affection and panache.
Winning first prize at the 2015 Musica Antiqua Festival in Bruges enabled Taylor to make this recording, which itself is destined to win him fresh accolades.