Brice Sailly – Monsieur Couperin. Louis, Charles, Francois I Pieces de clavecin (2021) [FLAC 24bit/96kHz]

Brice Sailly – Monsieur Couperin. Louis, Charles, François I Pièces de clavecin (2021)
FLAC (tracks) 24-bit/96 kHz | Time – 01:06:36 minutes | 1,34 GB | Genre: Classical
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download | Digital Booklet, Front Cover | © Ricercar

To our modern minds, the idea of not holding on tightly to one’s own intellectual property is a complete anathema. By the same turn, artistic works that can’t be indisputably attributed to a single named creator are mysteries to be solved rather than accepted. However, while plagiarism was beginning to become a concept during the seventeenth century, an artist was still only likely to see it as an important issue if they were planning to publish their works for commercial gain. If not, and if they were part of a collaborative family musical dynasty, it was much less of a thing to get hot under the collar about.

Apply that background now to the Bauyn manuscript – one of the most important sources for French 17th century harpsichord music – and you begin to understand how some of the greatest jewels are, rather frustratingly, attributable to a single “Monsieur Couperin”, rather than to one of the three Couperin brothers operating in that period: Louis (1626-1661), François I (1631-1710) and Charles (1638-1679) whose son was the famous François Couperin. Because while these works have mostly been attributed to the one with the most glittering career as a harpsichordist, Louis, more recent research suggests he’s not a good match for every piece. Instead, they’re more likely to be a mixture of Louis and Charles, with perhaps the odd piece from the slightly less gifted François I.

Hence the title of this Couperin-shaped offering from Brice Sailly, recorded in May 2020 at the Château de Mongeroult on a copy of a Tibaut de Toulouse harpsichord. This programme’s scholarly contribution lies less in making hard and fast pronouncements on authorship, and more in drawing our attentions to the fact that the programme’s pieces are likely to be the work of more than one Couperin; all while employing the numbering given to them in Bruce Gustavson’s edition of the Bauyn manuscript. All of which may sound rather academic to the average listener, but it’s interesting the extent to which awareness of that context does add to the listening experience. Plus, it’s good news when it comes to how it actually sounds. For starters, the overall capturing is lovely, giving us a nice, up-close and natural, but also polished sound. Then Sailly’s readings themselves are thoroughly ear-grabbing, with the fluidity of his shapings and the range of his expression. From the gossamer-weighted high-register wistfulness of La Pastourelle, to the dark, sighing beauty of the Pavane in F-sharp minor with its fuller textures, to the bright ceremonial grandeur of La Piétmontoise, this should appeal whether you’re new to this repertoire, or simply wishing to hear it with new ears. – Charlotte Gardner


1. [Pièces en ré]: Prélude (1) (5:43)
2. [Pièces en ré]: Allemande (36) (3:44)
3. [Pièces en ré]: Courante (42) (1:18)
4. [Pièces en ré]: Courante (43) (1:37)
5. [Pièces en ré]: Sarabande (51) (3:23)
6. [Pièces en ré]: Canaries (52) (1:36)
7. [Pièces en ré]: La Pastourelle (54) (1:33)
8. [Pièces en ré]: Chaconne (55) (2:42)
9. [Pièces en ré]: Volte (53) (1:03)
10. Pavanne [en fa # mineur] (121) (9:15)
11. [Pièces en mi-la]: Prélude (14) (1:40)
12. [Pièces en mi-la]: Allemande de la Paix (63) (3:15)
13. [Pièces en mi-la]: Courante (64) (1:36)
14. [Pièces en mi-la]: Sarabande (65) (3:35)
15. [Pièces en mi-la]: La Piémontoise (103) (1:54)
16. [Pièces en ut]: Prélude (9) (3:04)
17. [Pièces en ut]: Allemande la Précieuse (30) (3:19)
18. [Pièces en ut]: Courante (31) (1:48)
19. [Pièces en ut]: Courante (16) (1:27)
20. [Pièces en ut]: Sarabande (32) (3:09)
21. [Pièces en ut]: Sarabande (25) (1:12)
22. [Pièces en ut]: Gigue (33) (1:58)
23. [Pièces en ut]: Passacaille (27) (5:45)
24. [Pièces en ut]: Menuet (29) (1:16)