Program : harpsichord works by Etienne Richard, Louis Couperin, Marin Marais , Jean-Henri d’Anglebert, Jacques Hardel, Luigi Rossi, Pierre de La Barre, Jacques Thomelin, Henry Du Mont, Monnard, René Mézangeau and Germain Pinel
"This is very committed playing, with sprightly ornamentation, determined (in a good way) to make the best possible case for this little-known music though an extra layer of enjoyment can be detected in the luxuriant textures of the Louis Couperin Passacaille that closes the programme." David Hansell - Early Music Review
"Fabien Armengaud delivers engaging and stylish performances of the pieces he has selected. He plays a nice instrument, the copy of a harpsichord of the late 17th century, which produces a more pregnant sound that later instruments which are often used in French harpsichord music. It suits the music on the programme very well. The disc ends with one of Louis Couperin's most famous pieces, the superb Passacaille in C, which receives a majestic performance. There is no better way to end this captivating programme. " Johan van Veen -MusicWeb
Here, Fabien Armengaud whisks us off in search of Etienne Richard, Louis XIV's mysterious teacher. The originality of his preludes, the touching poetry of his allemandes, the classically elegant stature of his courantes, the melancholy of his sarabandes, his enigmatic gigue in 4/4, etc. all suggest to me that he was a leading master who is entirely wor-thy of his place on the Parnassus of the French harpsichord.
Of all the Richards - I shall spare you all the other possible homonyms (instrument makers, lutenists, etc.) - Etienne is the one about whom we know the most. He was the master spinet player of the King’s Bedchamber (1657), Henrietta of England's harpsichordist, organist at Saint-Nicolas des Champs, Saint Jacques de la Boucherie, Saint Martin des Champs and above all - above all! - at the Archives Nationales we find this: “As His Majesty takes unusual pleasure both in hearing the harpsichord played and playing it himself, he has chosen Estienne Richard to teach him how to do so”.
So Etienne Richard was definitely Louis XIV’s teacher - this is one thing we do know for sure. These works have been with me for many years and, as I was recording them, I could not help allowing my imagination to run wild. We all know that teaching is about far more than just the subject being taught. Indeed, as Montaigne puts it so beautifully: “Teaching is not filling a vase, it is lighting a fire”. What can Louis and Etienne possibly have talked about? After all, the teacher was thirty-six whereas the monarch was only nineteen. We know all about the sovereign’s love of music and the arts, but we also know that he took a real interest in other people’s affairs. Many years later, when Lalande’s two daughters died in the smallpox epidemic of 1711, the Sun King said “You have lost two worthy daughters and I have lost Monseigneur. Lalande, we must submit” (Monseigneur refers to the King’s eldest son, Prince Louis, who died before his father, at the age of forty-nine). Personally I feel sure that, as well as music, the two men talked of many other things.
A recording of Etienne Richard’s “complete” pieces would not have provided enough material for a whole CD, so I thought it would be an interesting idea to invite some of Richard’s predecessors, contemporaries and successors - what we might call his “manuscript neighbours” - to the party : Marais, de La Barre, Couperin, Rossi, Hardel, d’Anglebert…