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Qobuz - C 9639 F. Couperin: Mes pièces favorites

I think François Couperin never existed. And I'm not just talking about the man, that François Couperin who was born on November 10, 1668, in the apartments that his father, organist of Saint-Gervais, occupied in the rue du Pourtour, and who left him an orphan at the age of eleven. François must have had prodigious musical gifts because from that age until he was eighteen, the Butlers of Saint-Gervais guaranteed him and his mother the use of the paternal house and what was called "the future", that is to say, the inherited post of organist, so that he would be properly trained, a fact that was unusual at the time for such a young boy. Little else do we know about the man, apart from the fact that he spent his days busy with the duties of being the organist of such an important church (he attended no less than 400 services a year!) and whose scarce biographical data distributed in boring notarial documents despair the scholars, eager to find something that reveals unknown details of the personality of this human being.

Everyone seems to have loved and respected him, from Louis XIV himself to his fellow musicians, who never speak ill of him (even considering that he coexisted with such complicated and angry personalities as Antoine Forqueray or Louis Marchand). Always tormented by his "bad health and multiple illnesses", this great universal figure of the harpsichord would have simply passed for a compliant (and excellent, no doubt) composer of religious music until he was 45 years old, at which time he published his First Book for that instrument.

At once reserved and not very fond of the ostentatious, he is nevertheless aware of the importance and individuality of his keyboard music and shows an evident discomfort with those who "in a way that I consider impertinent do not observe faithfully, down to the smallest detail" the instructions that he carefully notes on articulation, phrasing and ornamentation. In his treatise L'Art de toucher le clavecin he says he prefers "what moves me to what surprises me" and that tinges his wonderful harpsichord music with two fundamental effects: on the one hand the stil luthé, which until then was more of a musical resource, a possibility used here and there by his predecessors, such as his uncle Louis Couperin or by Chambonnières. For him it was a raison d'être that allowed him to turn his work into elusive, foggy, almost unreal music, in which voices vanish and reappear while their resonance is preserved, and others emerge later; on the other hand, his music is also largely defined by the way in which he contracts the extension of the keyboard, tending to favour the low register, with which he usually wishes to communicate serious, felt, almost secret emotions.

No, someone capable of composing such a mysterious, ungraspable, ethereal music could not have really existed. The musician who liked to play with our sensations and our imagination with suggestive titles for his pieces, such as "the errant shadows" [4], "the mysterious barricades [18] or "the tender languishes" [2] is nothing more than the product of a dream of all of us who love his work and feel deeply touched by his vaporous harmonies, his music made up of reflections, uncertain, subtle, poetic, nostalgic and veiled.

(José Carlos Cabello)

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Qobuz - C 9639 F. Couperin: Mes pièces favorites


  • Yago Mahúgo, harpsichord built by Keith Hill (2009) after a Taskin model (1769)

Additional information

  • Total time 60:02

    Booklet 28-paged, full colour booklet with exclusive artist photos by and extensive liner notes by José Carlos Cabello

    Recording Fontenebro (Spain), December 2018

    Sound, digital edition and production Yago Mahúgo

    Mastering Jesús Trujillo & Yago Mahúgo

    Executive producers Yago Mahúgo & José Carlos Cabello

    Design and booklet coordination José Carlos Cabello

    Cover Foto de
✋ Please adjust first the VOLUME control on the SPEAKER ⇓ before playing ▶
Les Idées Heureuses
Prélude VII de L'Art de toucher le clavecin
Le Dodo ou L'amour au Berceau
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Qobuz - C 9639 F. Couperin: Mes pièces favorites