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Olivier Fortin|François Couperin : L'art de toucher le clavecin

François Couperin : L'art de toucher le clavecin

Olivier Fortin

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"The harpsichord is perfect as to it compass, and brilliant in itself, but as it is impossible to swell out or diminish the volume of its sound, I shall always feel grateful to any who, by the exercise of infinite art supported by fine taste, contrive to render this instrument capable of expression", writes Couperin himself in the foreword to his 1713 Premier livre de pièces de clavecin. If we discount the ornamentations which litter the world, Couperin's music is not a "virtuoso" music, as Scarlatti's can be, for example. Sometimes taking on a descriptive style, or going in for imitation or portrait, it requires a singular sense of expression: that very "expression" that the composer talks about here. In Art de toucher le clavecin, Couperin offers us precious information on how to interpret and play his music in particular, and French music of the period in general; an artist who aims to respect Couperin's intentions will find indispensable lessons here. That being said, a fear of stepping outside the bounds set by the author, and a too-minute attention to every detail could rob the works of their vitality and fluency. "As there is a great distance from grammar to declamation, so there is an infinitely greater one between the tablature and good playing style." Or, in other words, freedom within limits! That is the attitude that Olivier Fortin brings to this fine range of works from the great Couperin, drawn from various of his Livres de clavecin and L’Art de toucher le clavecin. As for the instrument being played, it is a "real fake", made in 1984 by the manufacturer Martin Skowroneck based on a Hemsch (that is, 18th century French), but signed with the name of the Rouen artistan Nicholas Lefebvre, none of whose instruments survive to the present day, and which was built in 1755. Skowroneck's aim was to prove to Gustav Leonhardt that it was still possible to build a harpsichord that was perfectly identical to one of the old style, and it seems that Leonhardt was taken with his attempt. Even the material's ageing was completely artificial! But it is no less of a splendid instrument for all that, and moreover, splendidly recorded, which is not all that common in the harpsichord repertoire. © SM/Qobuz

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François Couperin : L'art de toucher le clavecin

Olivier Fortin

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L'Art de toucher le clavecin (François Couperin)

1
Premier prélude en do majeur
00:01:07

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Premier livre de pièces de clavecin, 3e Ordre (François Couperin)

2
La Lugubre, Sarabande
00:03:11

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Quatrième livre de pièces de clavecin, 25e Ordre (François Couperin)

3
Les Ombres errantes
00:03:34

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Premier livre de pièces de clavecin, 3e Ordre (François Couperin)

4
La lutine
00:02:12

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

L'Art de toucher le clavecin (François Couperin)

5
Second prélude en ré majeur
00:01:34

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Quatrième livre de pièces de clavecin, 22e Ordre (François Couperin)

6
Les tours de passe-passe
00:02:51

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Premier livre de pièces de clavecin, 2e Ordre (François Couperin)

7
La Garnier
00:04:20

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Quatrième livre de pièces de clavecin, 22e Ordre (François Couperin)

8
Menuets croisés
00:02:09

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

L'Art de toucher le clavecin (François Couperin)

9
Huitième prélude en mi mineur
00:01:17

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Troisième livre de pièces de clavecin, 17e Ordre (François Couperin)

10
Les timbres
00:03:27

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Quatrième livre de pièces de clavecin, 11e Ordre (François Couperin)

11
La Couperin
00:03:30

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

L'Art de toucher le clavecin (François Couperin)

12
Quatrième prélude en fa majeur
00:01:39

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Troisième livre de pièces de clavecin, 18e Ordre (François Couperin)

13
Le Tic-Toc-Choc ou les Maillotins
00:02:44

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Quatrième livre de pièces de clavecin, 23e Ordre (François Couperin)

14
L'Arlequine
00:01:46

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

L'Art de toucher le clavecin (François Couperin)

15
Troisième prélude en sol mineur
00:01:00

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Premier livre de pièces de clavecin, 1er Ordre (François Couperin)

16
L'enchanteresse
00:02:29

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

17
Les chérubins ou l'aimable lazure
00:03:13

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

L'Art de toucher le clavecin (François Couperin)

18
Cinquième prélude en la majeur
00:02:42

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

19
La séduisante
00:03:13

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

20
La pantomime
00:04:21

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

21
Septième prélude en si bémol majeur
00:02:34

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Second livre de pièces de clavecin, 6e Ordre (François Couperin)

22
La Bersan
00:03:02

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

L'Art de toucher le clavecin (François Couperin)

23
Sixième prélude en si mineur
00:02:08

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Second livre de pièces de clavecin, 8e Ordre (François Couperin)

24
Allemande l'Ausoniène
00:02:32

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

25
Passacaille
00:07:09

Olivier Fortin, Harpsichord (Martin Skowroneck, 1984 after Henri Hemsch, said "The Harpsichord of Nicholas Lefebvre, 1755") - François Couperin, Composer

2018 Alpha Classics / Outhere Music France 2018 Olivier Fortin

Album Description

"The harpsichord is perfect as to it compass, and brilliant in itself, but as it is impossible to swell out or diminish the volume of its sound, I shall always feel grateful to any who, by the exercise of infinite art supported by fine taste, contrive to render this instrument capable of expression", writes Couperin himself in the foreword to his 1713 Premier livre de pièces de clavecin. If we discount the ornamentations which litter the world, Couperin's music is not a "virtuoso" music, as Scarlatti's can be, for example. Sometimes taking on a descriptive style, or going in for imitation or portrait, it requires a singular sense of expression: that very "expression" that the composer talks about here. In Art de toucher le clavecin, Couperin offers us precious information on how to interpret and play his music in particular, and French music of the period in general; an artist who aims to respect Couperin's intentions will find indispensable lessons here. That being said, a fear of stepping outside the bounds set by the author, and a too-minute attention to every detail could rob the works of their vitality and fluency. "As there is a great distance from grammar to declamation, so there is an infinitely greater one between the tablature and good playing style." Or, in other words, freedom within limits! That is the attitude that Olivier Fortin brings to this fine range of works from the great Couperin, drawn from various of his Livres de clavecin and L’Art de toucher le clavecin. As for the instrument being played, it is a "real fake", made in 1984 by the manufacturer Martin Skowroneck based on a Hemsch (that is, 18th century French), but signed with the name of the Rouen artistan Nicholas Lefebvre, none of whose instruments survive to the present day, and which was built in 1755. Skowroneck's aim was to prove to Gustav Leonhardt that it was still possible to build a harpsichord that was perfectly identical to one of the old style, and it seems that Leonhardt was taken with his attempt. Even the material's ageing was completely artificial! But it is no less of a splendid instrument for all that, and moreover, splendidly recorded, which is not all that common in the harpsichord repertoire. © SM/Qobuz

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