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Harpsichord Suites 1-6

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Audio CD, November 15, 2005
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (November 15, 2005)
  • SPARS Code: DDD
  • Number of Discs: 2
  • Label: Naxos
  • ASIN: B000BK53EW
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #348,852 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
There is an excitement in finding a new composer and writing about it on this site. In this case, I found a double excitement in hearing this recording of harpsichord suites by Elixabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (1664/65 -- 1729) on the Naxos label. First, this was my first experience with de la Guerre, even though, I found, she is reasonably well-represented on CD. Second, this CD includes de la Guerre's first set of harpsichord suites, composed in 1687, that were lost until recently. The CD also includes a subsequent set of harpsichord suites, composed in 1707. These latter suites also include an optional part for the violin, which is not included here.

Elizabeth de la Guerre was a child prodigy who, as an adult, composed music in a variety of genres during the time of Louis XIV. With the recovery of the harpsichord suites of 1687, she has the distinction of being the only French composer who wrote surviving works for the harpsichord in both the 17th and 18th centuries. A contemporary observer wrote of de la Guerre's harpsichord playing:

"she had a marvellous talent for on the spot playing of preludes and fantasies. Sometimes during an entire half hour, she would follow a prelude and fantasy with melodies and harmonies that were extremely varied and in excellent taste."

I think de la Guerre's harpsichord suites amply confirm this report of her gifts as a performer. These works are highly improvisatory and, in this recording, come alive as if they were being created under the hands of the gifted performer, Elizabeth Farr, a teacher of harpsichord and organ at the University of Colorado.
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Format: Audio CD
Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre (c. 1664/65 - 1729): Les Pièces de Clavecin (1687) and Pièces de Clavecin qui peuvent se jouer sur le viollon (1707). Performed by Elizabeth Farr on a French-style harpsichord made by Keith Hill, Manchester, Michigan, in 2003. Recorded at the Orum Hall in Valparaiso, Indiana, USA from 3rd to 6th August 2004. First published in 2004 as Naxos 8,557654-55 (2 Cds). Total playing time: 2 hrs 22'50".

The Composer: Although Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre was a celebrity at the court of Louis XIV, where she was already performing on the harpsichord as a 10 year old child prodigy, she is today known chiefly for being a woman composer, something generally unusual not only at this period. Her talent was above-average, and she produced not only the harpsichord music to be heard on these discs, but also an opera, cantatas and chamber music (examples here: Jacquet de la Guerre: Sonatas; Elisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre: Le Sommeil d'Ulisse).

The Music: These two CDs contain all of Jacquet de la Guerre's published harpsichord works: four suites from 1687 and two from 1707. These must be considered as very rare repertoire as there is only one surviving copy each of the published editions, one of which was only discovered comparatively recently. The suites follow the typical French baroque pattern of stylized dances (Allemande - Courante - Sarabande - Gigue) with some additional numbers such as Chaconnes, Menuets, Rigaudons or Rondeaux.
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Format: Audio CD
This is a very good set of enjoyable harpsichord pieces from the time of Louis XIV. The music of Elisabeth-Claude Jacquet de la Guerre has been somewhat rediscovered over recent years and it deserves its revival. Given her years of obscurity and the scarcity of women composers of the time, one may be tempted to suspect that she is receiving this attention for politically correct reasons but she most definitely isn't. These are pieces of real quality, and while she may not be of the stature of her contemporary Francois Couperin, she was a fine composer and her music stands on its merits.

The works are freer in feel than those of Couperin, with a semi-improvised feel. They have real melodic and harmonic invention and I find them delightful. Elizabeth Farr plays them very well, with a fine judgement of tempi, ornamentation and rubato and her harpsichord sounds wonderful. It is rich and ringing and is beautifully recorded by Naxos. The notes are a little sparse but adequate and the presentation is in Naxos's usual functional but attractive style.

I find these suites best listened to one by one: they do begin to sound a little samey in any great quantity, but singly they are charming and rewarding and I can warmly recommend this set.
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Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
I had downloaded 5 mp3 tracks from Amazon and was so delighted
with this beautifully played harpsichord music that I downloaded
the complete set of two cds into my amazon cloud and put them
on cds as a backup. Wouldn't ever want to lose them.
Thanks, Amazon and Elizabeth. Freddy
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Harpsichord Suites 1-6
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