First recordings of the complete surviving keyboard works by a forgotten figure of the French Baroque.
Brilliant Classics has revived the names of many composers from obscure corners of history. Few of them have been as buried by the past as Pierre-Claude Foucquet, who was active in Paris in the first half of the 18th century. Yet anyone listening to this first complete recording of his music for harpsichord will surely wonder why. Three volumes survive: two books of Pièces de Clavecin, and a third entitled Caractères de la Paix. This was the first to be published in 1749. By then Foucquet had been organist at the magnificent Church of Saint-Eustache for some years, and he would go on to take up the post of titulaire at Notre Dame. He was following in a distinguished family line, his father and grandfather both having been organists at Saint-Eustache.
Foucquet must have been a richly talented organist and improviser in the French tradition, and this latter quality is abundantly and delightfully preserved by the character pieces which make up these harpsichord suites. They belong to the same tradition as the Pièces de Clavecin of Couperin, d’Anglebert and Rameau, but they have a palette of colour and a dramatic imagination of their own. The third movement of Caractères de la Paix is titled ‘Le Feu’, and it fairly sets the instrument alight with pounding explosions and ribbons of flame, demanding all the resources of both an instrument and interpreter at full stretch.
From 1751 and 1758 respectively, the second and third books are hardly less full of vividly pictorial representations – of chickens and champagne, of figures lamenting and working and praying in a gallery of probably real people whose names are now lost to us but whose personality lives on in the keyboard music of French composers from the time.
This album of Foucquet is a notable addition to the Brilliant Classics discography of Fernando De Luca, which already includes complete surveys of other unfamiliar names from the time such as Jollage, Moyreau and most recently Pierre-Thomas Dufour (96771).
- Pierre-Claude Foucquet (1694-1772) was a French organist and harpsichordist. He was born in Paris, into a family of well-known musicians. At age 18, he was appointed as the organist at Saint Honoré church in Paris. Following this appointment he was the organist in several important churches: the Royal Abbey of St Victor (destroyed during the French Revolution), the St Eustache church, the Chapel Royal where he succeeded François d'Agincourt (1758), and the Notre-Dame Cathedral.
- In his three books of harpsichord works, “Pièces de Clavecin” one hears the influences of the French clavecinistes tradition, with its emphasis on ornamentation, rhythmic vitality, and stylized dance forms. At the same time, Foucquet's unique voice emerges, characterized by inventive harmonic progressions and a penchant for melodic lyricism.
- Played on a French harpsichord after Blanchet (1754) built by C. Caponi (1985) by Fernando De Luca, one of Italy’s foremost harpsichord players. He recorded to great critical acclaim the complete keyboard works by Graupner, Jollage, Dufour and Moyreau, published by Brilliant Classics. His recording of works by Jollage received 5 stars in the French Diapason.