Composers : Jean-Philippe Rameau, Claude Balbastre, Nicolas-Pancrace Royer Artist : Catherine Zimmer, harpsichord Program (76 min) : excerpts from "Airs d'opéra accommodés pour le clavecin..." by Balbastre made by transcriptions of opera music by Rameau, Rebel, Mondoville, Ferrand, Monsigny...; harpsichord works by Royer (Allemande, La Sensible, La marche des Scythes)
Contredance de Pigmalion
Menuet de Balbastre
“(Zimmer) plays on a harpsichord by Martine Argellies, after Goujon, and makes good use of its variety of colours with some sensitive registration. A good introduction to the late stages of French harpsichord music, played with a sense of fun and on its own terms.” Noel O’Regan, Early Music Review
"… the breathtaking "Marche des Scythes" by Royer: completely focused on her harpsichord, Catherine Zimmer leads us into this virtuosity piece with great dexterity, and does not balk at the intricate fingerings required by the composer". Bruno Maury, Muse Baroque
"From this collection, Zimmer extracts her own selection of concert pieces, competently performed with sharp contrasts, a certain youthfulness and expressive gestures on the beautiful French double-manual harpsichord by Martine Argellies, a replica of a mid-18th-century Goujon judiciously tuned to the d’Alembert-Rousseau temperament. The three Royer pieces at the end are a sort of encore, and will surely win Zimmer more fans." David Chung - Oxford Journals - Early Music
This collection appears as an anthology of famous plays ranked in no apparent order: they are grouped neither by key, by composer or chronological order, and passages from one opera do not necessarily follow one after the other. You can imagine that everyone picked and chose their favorite arias to play in their living room.The transcription by Balbastre remains fairly close to the original text, often written in two parts, but it gives an orchestral color by doubling octaves in the left hand and adding ornaments in the right hand. This form of writing gives us few opportunities to "fill" the inner parts like a continuo does.Put next to this collection, the pieces of Nicolas Pancrace Royer, best known today, are from his own operas, and show a very different approach of transcription. Royer re-writes his proper orchestral music in a style very closed to the one used for keyboard. The progams ends with the formidable "Marche des Scythes"...
Le Concert Spirituel, association of public concerts created in 1725 at The Tuileries in Paris, was a meeting place for innovation and creation for several decades. So it's no coincidence that the composers on this record passed each other in this place: if Nicolas Royer Pancras was its director from 1748 to 1754, Mondonville, Rebel, Rameau and others can be found in the archives of programs, and we also find Claude Balbastre playing his organ transcription of the overture of Pygmalion by Rameau, May 29, 1755.
This recording presents Claude Balbastre transcriptions from a masnuscript kept at Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris : “Collection of arias selected from several operas accommodated for the harpsichord” featuring forty arias by French composers and two by Italian composers, and other music pieces including a trio and a sonata copied by another hand. Besides Rameau, the most frequently cited in this collection, we meet Mondonville, Ferrand, Rebel, Rousseau, Dauvergne, Monsigny, composers some of whom violently disagreed during the quarrel of the Buffoons which ended in 1754 with the cover version of Castor and Pollux.