Classical CD Reviews

TELEMANN: Works for Clavier – Olivier Baumont, harpsichord – Euromusic
ROYER: Premiere Livre de Pieces pour Clavecin – Yago Magugo

A pair of infrequently-heard composers for the harpsichord.

Published on July 17, 2013

TELEMANN: Works for Clavier – Olivier Baumont, harpsichord – Euromusic</br/>ROYER: Premiere Livre de Pieces pour Clavecin – Yago Magugo

TELEMANN: Works for Clavier = Overture in G Major; Fantasia I & II in D Major; Fantaisie I in C major & II in c minor; Fantasia IX in b minr; Fantasia X in D Major;  HANDEL-TELEMANN: “Jesu meine Freude” Choralvorspiele (3 versions) – Olivier Baumont, harpsichord & (on Handel) clavichord – Euromusic LY052, 58:16 (Distr. by Harmonia mundi) ****:

JOSEPH-NICOLAS-PANCRACE ROYER: Premiere Livre de Pieces pour Clavecin (1746) [TrackList follows] – Yago Mahugo, harpsichord – Brilliant Classics 94479, 61:57 (Distr. by Naxos) ****:

Telemann was one of the most prolific composers ever, with over 3000 works credited to him, and in his time was regarding as the leading German composer. Even Bach made him the godfather of one of his sons. His works were ignored for a time but have had a rebirth in the 20th century and his music is seen as a link between the late Baroque and the early Classical styles. In the Wikipedia partial list of Telemann works there are no keyboard-only works listed at all. His keyboard works don’t have a prominent place like those of Handel and Purcell, but there are many treasures among them. A few are on the first CD.

Telemann was passionately fond of music from an early age, but it is amazing to learn that he only had two weeks of formal lessons on the clavier as a youth. He was inspired by Italian and French music in his own works. The six short segments of the opening Overture in G are in the French style and redolent of the Court of Versailles. The six Fantasies come from Telemann’s set of 36 of them, the first 12 and the last 12 in the Italian style, and the middle 12 in the French style. They are all grouped into pairs in the same or related keys.

For this CD, five keyboard instruments were at the disposal of the performer: two French harpsichords, two Italian ones, and a German fretted clavichord. All five are originals from the 17th and 18 centuries, with one of the Italian harpsichords coming from Florence in about 1610. The clavichord is used for the playing of the three versions of the main theme of Handel’s choral piece.


Royer was a less well-known French composer of the second quarter of the 18th century. He lived in Paris and was responsible for the musical education of the children of Louis XV, as well as writing operas and other vocal music. He was also music director of the king’s chamber and director of the Royal Opera orchestra.

This seems to be one of the few recordings of Royer’s music. Several of the works in his First Book show his activities in music theater, being arrangements of instrumental pieces from his operas—something surprisingly seldom done at this time. The taste of the time was into rondeaus, and there are several of them here.  The opening selection is a dotted-rhythm courante and The Two Tambourines have a drone effect for their tumultuous minute-and-a-half length.  The No. 12 Allemande is slower than in earlier works, and of a forceful character. The closing “La Chasse de Zaide” is not from The First Book, but a short Royer piece found by fellow harpsichord and conductor Christophe Rousset.

TrackList:

  • Premiere livre de pièces pour clavecin (1746)
  1. La majestuese: courante
  2. La Zäide: rondeau (Tendrement)
  3. Les matelots: (modérément)
  4. Premier et deuxième tambourins
  5. L’incertaine: (marque)
  6. L’aimable: (gracieux)
  7. La bagatelle
  8. Suite de la bagatelle
  9. La remouleuse: rondeau (modérément)
  10. Les tendre Sentiments: rondeau
  11. Le vertigo: rondeau (modérément)
  12. Allemande
  13. La sensible: rondeau
  14. La marche des Scythes: fièrement
  15. La chasse de Zäide (1739)

—John Sunier




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