RAMEAU Nouvelles Suites de Pièces de Clavecin: Livre II
More and more pianists are turning to Rameau’s keyboard works, including Alexander Paley – this is the second disc in a projected complete cycle. By and large, the composer’s decorative idiom withstands Paley’s subjective style and protracted tempi, whether or not one agrees with all of his interpretive decisions. Throughout the Suite in E’s Courante, for example, Paley’s deliberation allows plenty of legroom for fustian ornaments, in contrast to Angela Hewitt’s quicker overall pulse and stylistically apt <i>notes inégales</i> (Hyperion). Paley embellishes the first Gigue and Rondeau with rapid zither-like repeated notes which might sound ghastly on a harpsichord yet suit the modern concert grand to a T. By contrast, his lurching phrase distentions throw the rhythmic swagger off kilter in the first ‘Rigaudon’ and in ‘Tambourin’. </p>
<p>If Paley slows down the chattering birdsongs of ‘Le rappel des oiseaux’ to zombie-like stasis, the similarly free-framed ‘Menuet en rondeau’ plus the Suite in D’s ‘Les Niais de Sologne’, ‘La Follette’ and ‘Les Soupirs’ hypnotically float over the bar-lines with subtle accentuations and inflections. The pianist’s emphatic stresses and dynamic hairpins work better in ‘Les Tourbillons’ than they do in ‘Les Cyclopes’, where his upward repeated notes sound heavy and tired alongside Rameau piano pioneer Marcelle Meyer’s effortlessly nimble fingers (Erato). Next to the deliciously turned trills and coiled lilt of Meyer’s ‘La Dauphine’, Paley’s relatively diffuse and sectionalised interpretation pales. Few of this pianist’s discs capture his full-bodied and colourful tone to the degree of this fascinating but not consistently convincing release.