An obscure corner of the French Baroque illuminated: the only available recording of the sole extant collection by a Parisian organist and composer.
About Pierre-Thomas Dufour, almost nothing is now known for certain beyond his death in Paris, on 30 December 1786, and the publication in 1770 of this collection of harpsichord pieces bearing his name. He probably wrote a good deal else, both for harpsichord and organ, given that the title page of the collection informs us that Dufour was organist of the Eglise de Saint-Jean-en-Grève and the Eglise Saint-Laurent, both in Paris.
The collection is divided between dances (gigues, courantes, allemandes and musettes), and stylised evocations indicated by their titles after the fashion of Couperin: ‘The Blacksmiths’, ‘The Doves’ and so on. In his booklet essay, the harpsichordist Fernando De Luca observes that these tone-poems are no less vividly coloured and dramatized than contemporary canvases by Boucher and Watteau.
There are also two self-contained solo concertos for the instrument, in B flat and E flat major. Cast in the conventional three movements, the concertos share a grandeur of spirit with the more stately of the individual pieces such as ‘La Triomphante’ and ‘La Sincere’. Despite his obscurity, there is no reason to regard Dufour as a ‘lesser’ composer on the evidence of this slender collection, especially now that it is recorded in its entirety. A portrait emerges through it of Dufour himself, as a cultivated and cosmopolitan musician, well aware of contemporary trends not only in French music but further abroad, especially in the Italianate dash of the two concertos. The collection closes with a spectacular Carillon in imitation of the church-bells which rang throughout Paris (and every other European city) on the quarter-hour.
Fernando De Luca has accumulated an impressive discography for Brilliant Classics, including substantial and equally pioneering sets of the complete harpsichord music by Christoph Graupner (96131) and Christophe Moyreau (96285). ‘There is much to admire about this recording project… a monumental enterprise… [listeners will admire] both Graupner’s and De Luca’s facility, being rewarded with some attractive music confidently delivered.’ (Early Music Review)
- Pierre-Thomas Dufour's (c. 1721-1786) "Pièces de Clavecin" is a remarkable collection of keyboard music from the Baroque era. Composed in the 18th century, these pieces showcase Dufour's exceptional talent as a harpsichordist and composer. The collection consists of a series of captivating works, such as (court) dances and titled works like La Majestueuse, La Triomphante and Les Scithes, which epitomize the elegance and intricacy of French Baroque music.
- Dufour's "Pièces de Clavecin" are characterized by their ornate ornamentation, graceful melodies, and intricate counterpoint. They are a testament to the refined musical tastes of the time, with their delicate phrasing and use of ornamentation to add nuance and expression to the music.
- Played by Fernando De Luca, one of Italy’s foremost harpsichord players, who recorded to great critical acclaim the complete keyboard works by Graupner (BC96131) and Moyreau (BC96285), published by Brilliant Classics. His recording of works by Jollage received 5 stars in the French Diapason.