Nicolas Lebègue: Les Pièces De Clavessin [books

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Catalog: BRI95671

Álvarez, Agustín

Nicolas Lebègue (1631-1702) is largely represented in the record catalogue by albums of organ music. Yet his pieces for harpsichord are no less distinctive and appealing in their way, and this new recording presents a rare chance to survey that side of his output in total. Known in his day among the most renowned organists of Paris, Lebègue left to us three books of organ music, and this pair of volumes for harpsichord. Their style may owe something to the examples of Chambonnières and Louis Couperin, but there are notable differences. Lebègue tends to underplay the pictorial or illustrative potential of his genre and emphasize instead its natural language of formal elegance. Such formality is reflected in the organization of his suites, which open with an allemande–courante coupling, preceded only in his first book by unmeasured preludes. After the courante there follows a mixture of dances, always poised and gracefully turned. Particular high points include the Chaconne in C (first book) and the Chaconne grave in G (second book), which attain a stature worthy of Louis Couperin. In a personal, engaging but also scholarly booklet essay, Agustín Álvarez outlines his approach: ‘not only as a musician, but from the point of view of a dancer, trying to understand the steps, as well as the physical and intellectual attitudes which mold the sublime art of movement of French Baroque dance and which Nicolas Lebègue gradually reveals to us as a ceremonial master of his art.’

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