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Track(s) taken from CDA67597

Suite in G minor

Nouvelles suites de pièces de clavecin, circa 1729/30

Angela Hewitt (piano)
Recording details: June 2006
Das Kulturzentrum Grand Hotel, Dobbiaco, Italy
Produced by Ludger Böckenhoff
Engineered by Ludger Böckenhoff
Release date: January 2007
Total duration: 28 minutes 21 seconds

Cover artwork: The Music Lesson by Jean-Honoré Fragonard (1732-1806)
Louvre, Paris / Giraudon / Bridgeman Images

Other recordings available for download

Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)


‘She is, of course, a master pianist with the kind of refined finger technique and musical sensibility that can bring to Baroque music all the clarity of line and texture it needs … there is some wonderfully tender music-making’ (Gramophone)

‘There is something about Angela Hewitt's playing of these three substantial suites which leaves the listener entirely convinced that the piano is as capable as any early 18th-century instrument of realising Rameau's intentions. Indeed, in less extrovert descriptive pieces such as the G minor Suite's gently melancholy Les Triolets, it enhances the music's tender expressiveness without sounding at all anachronistic. On the other hand, the crispness and clarity of Hewitt's tone, the sensitivity of her touch and the exquisite precision of her ornaments mean that the clucking hen in La Poule, and the gloriously spontaneous-sounding efflorescence of birdsong in Le Rappel des oiseaux (from the G minor and E minor Suites respectively) are as characterful as any connoisseur of Baroque keyboard playing could wish for. Dance movements are equally well served, from the nobility and grandeur of the A minor Suite's Courante with its sonorous spread chords, to the E minor's charming pair of lyrical rather than sprightly Gigues. Every piece is the epitome of Parisian elegance’ (The Daily Telegraph)

‘This release has come as something of a revelation … Hewitt's digital dexterity is by now very well known. What is interesting here is the way in which she deploys her fingers (and her musicianship) in the service of Rameau's particular idiom … after listening to this disc, I almost couldn't believe I had experienced what it contains. I felt like keeping the music, and Hewitt's performances, in my mind and ear, while also wanting to recapture them in physical sound’ (International Record Review)

‘Hewitt clearly relishes the colour and rhythmic energy of these dance sequences; her performances have a wonderfully fluid stylishness, with scrupulous ornamentation that never seems self-consciously correct, and they are founded upon a willingness to use the full tonal resources of a modern concert grand in a way that seems to make utterly irrelevant any question of what is historically or musicologically 'correct' in playing this music’ (The Guardian)

‘Hewitt, performing on a favoured Fazioli piano, is on top form in these three keyboard suites by Rameau … speeds are steady, rhythms crisp and real singing tunes emerge from the harmonic weft … this interpretative level is maintained throughout the CD. The year is off to a flyer’ (The Times)

‘This magnificent disc of three of his immensely attractive keyboard suites should help to enlighten us. Angela Hewitt responds to them with a combination of directness and delicacy that is irresistible. Rhythms are vital, rubato is subtle, yet never draws attention to itself, the abundant ornamentation flowers with brilliant naturalness, and her masterly touch persuades you that the piano is the perfect instrument to realise Rameau’s richly coloured music’ (The Sunday Times)

‘Although she is using a modern piano here, Hewitt has such a light touch to her interpretation that one never loses the sense of the delicacy of the original instrument … Hewitt's technique is impeccable throughout and her musical taste is as delightful as one expect from Gramophone's 2006 Artist of the Year’ (HMV Choice)

‘I was quite taken aback by the sheer beauty of Angela Hewitt's new CD of three of his harpsichord suites, played on a magnificent Fazioli piano … I gained sheer pleasure from listening to this Hyperion release—beautiful sound and beautiful music’ (Liverpool Daily Post)

‘The duelling bird chirrups of Le rappel des oiseaux … are carried off splendidly, as is La Poule … moreover, where in such pieces the punishing finger gymnastics of Rameau's ornamentations and trills can so easily descend into a typewriterish rattle, here they sparkle with energy and easy agility. Hewitt often draws a vibrant, remarkably harpsichord-like sound from her instrument…she is always an impressive pianist and this disc is a welcome addition to the meagre Rameau catalogue’ (Pianist)

‘Few things sound quite as lovely as baroque keyboard music played on the modern piano, particular when the music is as exquisite as Rameau's and the pianist as exquisite as Angela Hewitt. Having already released several spectacular performances of Bach's keyboard masterworks, she now turns her attention to the music of 18th-century France's premier keyboard composer, with similarly ravishing results. Essential’ (CD Hotlist, USA)

‘For Rameau on the piano, Angela Hewitt proves just as gorgeous in her realizations as Tzimon Barto on Ondine, but with a million times the intelligence, stylistic awareness, and taste. Helped by her Fazioli concert grand's bright edge, Hewitt demonstrates that the nooks and crannies of Rameau's ornamentation not only work on the piano but also benefit from the instrument's capacity for dynamic nuances. Hewitt's varied articulation and tonal shading arise from the music's dance origins and are never 'pianistic' for their own sake. Sometimes Hewitt may taper a phrase to slightly precious effect or time a cadence with just a smidgen of archness, but her glorious rhythmic sense and crisply centered trills and mordents offer vivid compensation … all told, this is the finest Rameau piano disc since Marcelle Meyer's classic 1953 cycle, and I look forward to more. As usual, Hewitt's annotations are well researched and reader-friendly, while Hyperion's engineering is vivid and detailed’ (Classics Today)

‘There is a gleam to Angela Hewitt's sound that takes up Rameau's keyboard pieces, perhaps the ultimate harpsichord music, and sells them with considerable noble persuasiveness on the modern piano … Ms Hewitt delights in this music's energy, and her love of its peacock displays of flourish and ornament are nearly irresistible … like her Bach, her Rameau recordings demonstrate a fastidious heeding of the composer’s intent, with meticulous ornamentation and articulation’ (The New York Times)

‘She is undoubtedly a master pianist, gifted with a natural refined finger technique and musical sensibility that can bring to the baroque style, the clarity of texture and line it needs to make it sound opulently embellished. In these renditions, she admirably harnesses all the ornamentations, and none are shirked. Her contrapuntal understanding is never amiss, and where warranted, she plays with a tenderness that is almost beyond fragility’ (Classical.net)

‘This attractive programme … shares the qualities that have made her such an acclaimed interpreter of music of that period, although she has proved equally perceptive in later repertoire … she plays a piano rather than the harpsichord for which the music was originally written, but succeeds in conveying the authentic feel and much of the intricate ornamentation of the music … her insightful understanding of the music combines with a characteristically elegant but energised touch at the keyboard in compelling fashion’ (The Inverness Courier)

«La saine musicalité d'Angela Hewitt nous enchante. Ce discours lumineux, ce toucher liquide, cette humilité sans mollesse devant le texte, ce soin maniaque dans l'exécution d'ornements toujours périlleux au piano, dénotent une intimité non feinte … cette pianiste accomplie sait son métier et le pratique avec honnêteté. Les couleurs sont jolies et une certaine profondeur de champ se discerne … Rameau composait avec des sons charnels et des sensations intimes, et non avec de désuets et évanescents effluves» (Diapason, France)
The Suite in G minor is made up almost entirely of pièces de caractère. The set opens with Les tricotets, a capricious reference to the swift and nimble movement of hands engaged in knitting. The perfumed tones of L’indifferente give way to the theatrical steps of the two Menuets which Rameau later recycled in his Castor and Pollux (1737). Then comes La poule, yet another of Rameau’s pieces that survived into the Romantic period as a bon-bon for the piano; it seems to have been played with particular aplomb by Louis Diémer, the teacher of Alfred Cortot. La poule also enjoyed some renown in an orchestral transcription by Respighi in his Gli uccelli (later used as the title music of the BBC quiz show Going for a song). The pervading quality of tragedy is difficult to ignore here as the repeated quavers and fiendish semiquavers riddled with mordents and trills suggest a pursuit of some kind—perhaps our barnyard friend is being tracked by a hawk or some other kind of predator?

Les triolets takes its name from a genre of French poetry which by Rameau’s day had already become quite archaic. There is no discernible connection between this piece and the poetic form, but I have always imagined it to depict the discovery of old love letters in the attic of one’s grandparents, so sweet is the quality of nostalgia—and so fleeting, for in the closing bars of the petite reprise we hear the past crumbling like old paper in our hands. Les sauvages represents impressions of two Huron Indians sent from French Canada in the 1720s who performed at the Théâtre italien in Paris to a large crowd of curious observers. The unwieldy contour of the principal theme, based on bizarre leaps, transmits the quality of naïveté ascribed by eighteenth-century Europeans to anyone they considered to be ‘noble savages’. Rameau goes from the exotic to the esoteric in the following piece, L’enharmonique, which derives its name, as Rameau explains in the preface to the collection, from the enharmonic spelling of certain notes and chords which form the basis for striking chromatic modulations. Always certain to justify his musical decisions, Rameau argues that ‘the harmony which creates this effect has by no means been thrown in haphazardly; it is based on logic and has the sanction of nature herself’—a clear reference to the use of a circular temperament of some kind. The concluding L’egiptienne (not L’Égyptienne as it appears in some modern editions) portrays the wild mystery of a gypsy girl. Crossed-hand imitative gestures with descending arpeggios create a cascade of sound at once powerful and capricious. She is the darker, sultrier, and much more fun counterpart to Debussy’s Girl with the flaxen hair.

from notes by Mahan Esfahani © 2014

La Suite en sol mineur se compose presque entièrement de pièces de caractère. Le recueil débute avec Les tricotets, référence fantasque au mouvement rapide et habile des mains en train de tricoter. Les tons parfumés de L’indifférente font place aux pas théâtraux des deux Menuets que Rameau recycla par la suite dans Castor et Pollux (1737). Vient ensuite La poule, encore une autre pièce de Rameau qui a survécu à l’ère romantique comme un bonbon pour le piano; il semble que Louis Diémer, professeur d’Alfred Cortot, la jouait avec un aplomb particulier. La poule connut aussi une certaine notoriété dans une transcription pour orchestre de Respighi dans Gli uccelli («Les oiseaux»), ensuite utilisée comme générique du quiz radiophonique de la BBC Going for a song. Il est difficile d’ignorer ici le côté tragique de cette pièce car les croches répétées et les doubles croches diaboliques criblées de mordants et de trilles suggèrent une quelconque poursuite—peut-être notre amie de la basse-cour est-elle poursuivie par un faucon ou un autre genre de prédateur?

Les triolets tirent leur nom d’un genre de poésie française qui, à l’époque de Rameau, était déjà devenu très archaïque. On ne discerne aucun lien entre cette pièce et la forme poétique, mais j’ai toujours imaginé qu’elle dépeignait la découverte de vieilles lettres d’amour dans le grenier des grands-parents, tant l’impression de nostalgie est douce—et fugace, car dans les dernières mesures de la petite reprise on entend le passé s’effriter comme du vieux papier entre nos mains. Les sauvages représentent les impressions de deux Indiens hurons envoyés du Canada français dans les années 1720, qui jouèrent au Théâtre italien à Paris devant une grande foule d’observateurs curieux. Le contour compliqué du thème principal, basé sur des sauts étranges, transmet une certaine naïveté attribuée par les Européens du XVIIIe siècle à tous ceux qu’ils considéraient comme de «nobles sauvages». Rameau passe de l’exotique à l’ésotérique dans la pièce suivante, L’enharmonique, qui tire son nom, ainsi que l’explique Rameau dans la préface du recueil, de l’écriture enharmonique de certaines notes et accords formant la base de modulations chromatiques frappantes. Toujours soucieux de justifier ses décisions musicales, Rameau soutient que «l’harmonie qui cause cet effet n’est point jettée au hazard; elle est fondée en raisons, et autorisée par la nature même»—référence claire à l’utilisation d’un tempérament circulaire d’un certain genre. L’egiptienne (et non L’Égyptienne comme elle apparaît dans certaines éditions modernes) finale décrit le mystère sauvage d’une gitane. Des gestes imitatifs de mains croisées avec des arpèges descendants créent une cascade sonore puissante et extravagante. C’est l’homologue plus sombre, plus sensuel et beaucoup plus drôle de La fille aux cheveux de lin de Debussy.

extrait des notes rédigées par Mahan Esfahani © 2014
Français: Marie-Stella Pâris

Die Suite in g-Moll besteht fast ganz aus pièces de caractère. Sie beginnt mit Les tricotets, einer kapriziösen Anspielung auf die flinken und geschickten Handbewegungen beim Stricken. Die parfümierten Klänge von L’indifferente weichen dem theatralischen Schreiten in den beiden Menuets, die Rameau später in seiner Oper Castor et Pollux (1737) erneut verarbeitet hat. Darauf folgt La poule, ein weiteres Stück von Rameau, das sich in der Epoche der Romantik als Schmankerl für das Klavier gehalten hat; es wurde anscheinend von Louis Diémer, dem Lehrer von Alfred Cortot, mit besonderer Souveränität gespielt. La poule war auch in einer Orchesterversion von Respighi in seinen Gli uccelli sehr bekannt (sie wurde später als Titelmusik der BBC-Quizshow Going for a song verwendet). Das durchgängige Pathos läßt sich hier kaum überhören, während die Achtelwiederholungen und teuflischen Sechzehntel voller Mordente und Triller eine Art Verfolgungsjagd nahelegen—vielleicht wird unsere Henne auf dem Bauernhof von einem Habicht oder einem anderen Räuber verfolgt?

Les triolets ist nach einer französischen Gedichtform benannt, die zu Rameaus Zeit bereits etwas antiquiert war. Es gibt keine erkennbare Verbindung zwischen diesem Stück und der Gedichtform, aber in meiner Vorstellung schildert es die Entdeckung alter Liebesbriefe auf dem großelterlichen Dachboden, so liebenswert ist die Nostalgie—und so flüchtig, denn in den Schlußtakten der petite reprise hört man die Vergangenheit zerbröseln wie altes Papier zwischen den Fingern. Les sauvages bringt Impressionen von zwei Indianern (Huronen) aus Französisch-Kanada, die in den 1720er Jahren am Théâtre italien in Paris vor einer großen Menge neugieriger Zuschauer auftraten. Die schwerfällige Kontur des auf bizarren Sprüngen beruhenden Hauptthemas vermittelt die naïveté, die die Europäer des 18. Jahrhunderts jedem zugeschrieben haben, den sie als „edlen Wilden“ ansahen. Rameau geht im folgenden Stück, L’enharmonique, vom Exotischen zum Esoterischen über; der Titel ist, wie Rameau im Vorwort zu dem Sammelband erläutert, von der enharmonischen Schreibweise bestimmter Töne und Akkorde abgeleitet, die den eindringlichen chromatischen Modulationen zugrundeliegen. Immer mit der Absicht, seine musikalischen Entscheidungen zu begründen, erklärt Rameau: „die Harmonie, die diesen Eindruck hervorruft, ist keineswegs eine zufällige; sie beruht auf Vernunftgründen und wird von der Natur selbst bestätigt“—ein deutlicher Hinweis auf die Verwendung einer Art „wohltemperierter Stimmung“. Das abschließende L’egiptienne (nicht L’Égyptienne, wie man es in einigen modernen Ausgaben findet) schildert eine wilde, rätselhafte Zigeunerin. Überkreuz gespielte Imitationen mit absteigenden Arpeggien erzeugen eine so kraftvolle wie kapriziöse Klangkaskade. Es ist ein dunkleres, feurigeres und viel witzigeres Pendant zu Debussys Prélude La fille aux cheveux de lin (Das Mädchen mit dem flachsfarbenen Haar).

aus dem Begleittext von Mahan Esfahani © 2014
Deutsch: Christiane Frobenius

Other albums featuring this work

Rameau: Pièces de clavecin
Studio Master: CDA68071/22CDsStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Rameau: Keyboard Suites
This album is not yet available for downloadSACDA67597Super-Audio CD — Deleted
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