Lebègue: Les Pièces de Clavessin, Books I & II

Lebègue: Les Pièces de Clavessin, Books I & II
Composer Nicolas Lebègue
Artist Agustín Álvarez harpsichord
Format 3 CD
Cat. number 95671
EAN code 5028421956718
Release January 2020

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About this release

Nicolas Lebègue (1631-1702) is largely represented in the record catalogue by albums of organ music. Yet his pieces for harpsichord are no less distinctive and appealing in their way, and this new recording presents a rare chance to survey that side of his output in toto.

Known in his day among the most renowned organists of Paris, Lebègue left to us three books of organ music, and this pair of volumes for harpsichord. Their style may owe something to the examples of Chambonnières and Louis Couperin, but there are notable differences. Lebègue tends to underplay the pictorial or illustrative potential of his genre, and emphasise instead its natural language of formal elegance. Such formality is reflected in the organization of his suites, which open with an allemande–courante coupling, preceded only in his first book by unmeasured preludes. After the courante there follows a mixture of dances, always poised and gracefully turned. Particular high-points include the Chaconne in C (first book) and the Chaconne grave in G (second book), which attain a stature worthy of Louis Couperin.

In a personal, engaging but also scholarly booklet essay, Agustín Álvarez outlines his approach: ‘not only as a musician, but from the point of view of a dancer, trying to understand the steps, as well as the physical and intellectual attitudes which mould the sublime art of movement of French Baroque dance and which Nicolas Lebègue gradually reveals to us as a ceremonial master of his art.’ Born in Venezuela and trained in in Madrid and Milan, Álvarez also studied Baroque dance and continues to work with an important Spanish dance company. In 2015 he recorded the Concertos for Two Harpsichords by Soler: a Brilliant Classics album (BC95327) that attracted praise from distinguished quarters: ‘These French-styled harpsichords have beautiful tone… Alvarez and Fernandez make the music sound noble and even sometimes sombre’ (American Record Guide, March 2017).

Nicolas Lebègue (1631-1702) spent most of his life at the Court of the Sun King Louis XIV in Versailles, where he was court organist, but also played an active part in all of the manifold musical activities at the court, such as playing the harpsichord for the King, participating in the court orchestra and accompanying famous visiting musicians.
Lebègue played an important role in the development of the Suite, establishing the now common order of Prelude-Allemande-Courante-Sarabande-Menuet-Gigue. He also introduces a writing system for the “preludes non-mesurés”, the introductory movement of the suite in which improvisation plays an important part.
In this new recording Augustín Álvarez plays the complete two books of Suites: “I have tried to approach this beautiful music not only as a musician, but from the point of view of dance, of a dancer, trying to understand the inmensity of codes, lost for us today, which were so important at the time, as well as the physical and intellectual attitudes which conform the sublime art of movement of French Baroque dance and which Nicolas Lebègue slowly reveals to us as a ceremonial master.”

Track list

Disk 1

  1. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: I. Prélude in D Minor
  2. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: II. Allemande
  3. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: III. Courante grave
  4. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: IV. Courante gaye & double
  5. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: V. Sarabande
  6. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: VI. Gavotte
  7. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: VII. Menuet
  8. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: VIII. Canaris
  9. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: IX. Courante in D-Sharp Minor
  10. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: X. Sarabande grave
  11. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: XI. Gigue
  12. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: XII. Chaconne grave
  13. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: XIII. Ballet
  14. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in D Major, Book I: XIV. Gavotte
  15. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: I. Prélude in G Minor
  16. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: II. Allemande
  17. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: III. Allemande gaye
  18. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: IV. Courante grave
  19. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: V. 2me Courante
  20. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: VI. Sarabande grave
  21. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: VII. Gavotte
  22. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: VIII. Menuet
  23. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: IX. Courante in G Major
  24. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: X. Gigue d´angleterre fort viste
  25. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: XI. Bourée & double
  26. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: XII. Menuet
  27. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in G Major, Book I: XIII. 2me Menuet
  28. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in A Major, Book I: I. Prélude in A Minor
  29. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in A Major, Book I: II. Allemande
  30. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in A Major, Book I: III. Courante
  31. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in A Major, Book I: IV. 2me Courante
  32. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in A Major, Book I: V. Sarabande grave
  33. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in A Major, Book I: VI. Gigue
  34. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in A Major, Book I: VII. Menuet
  35. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in A Major, Book I: VIII. 2me Menuet

Disk 2

  1. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in C Major, Book I: I. Prélude in C Major
  2. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in C Major, Book I: II. Allemande
  3. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in C Major, Book I: III. Courante
  4. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in C Major, Book I: IV. 2me Courante & double
  5. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in C Major, Book I: V. Chaconne
  6. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in C Major, Book I: VI. Bourée & double
  7. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in C Major, Book I: VII. Gigue
  8. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in C Major, Book I: VIII. Gavotte & double
  9. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in C Major, Book I: IX. Menuet
  10. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in F Major, Book I: I. Prélude in F Major
  11. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in F Major, Book I: II. Allemande
  12. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in F Major, Book I: III. Courante
  13. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in F Major, Book I: IV. Courante
  14. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in F Major, Book I: V. Sarabande grave
  15. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in F Major, Book I: VI. Gigue
  16. Nicolas Lebègue: Pièces in F Major, Book I: VII. Gavotte
  17. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in D Minor, Book II: I. Allemande
  18. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in D Minor, Book II: II. Courante
  19. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in D Minor, Book II: III. Sarabande grave
  20. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in D Minor, Book II: IV. Gigue
  21. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in D Minor, Book II: V. Menuet
  22. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: I. Allemande
  23. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: II. 2 me Allemande
  24. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: III. Courante
  25. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: IV. Sarabande
  26. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: V. Rondeau
  27. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: VI. Gigue
  28. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: VII. Passacaille
  29. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: VIII. Menuet
  30. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: IX. Gavotte
  31. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: X. Gavotte
  32. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Minor, Book II: XI. Menuet

Disk 3

  1. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Minor, Book II: I. Allemande
  2. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Minor, Book II: II. Courante
  3. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Minor, Book II: III. Sarabande
  4. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Minor, Book II: IV. Gavotte
  5. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Minor, Book II: V. Menuet
  6. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Major Book II: I. Allemande
  7. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Major Book II: II. Courante
  8. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Major Book II: III. Sarabande fort grave
  9. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Major Book II: IV. Gigue
  10. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Major Book II: V. Bourée & double
  11. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in A Major Book II: VI. Cannaris
  12. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in F Major, Book II: I. Allemande
  13. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in F Major Book II: II. Courante
  14. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in F Major Book II: III. Sarabande
  15. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in F Major Book II: IV. Gigue
  16. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in F Major Book II: V. Menuet
  17. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in F Major Book II: VI. Menuet
  18. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in F Major Book II: VII. Chaconne
  19. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: I. Allemande
  20. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: II. Courante
  21. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: III. Sarabande grave
  22. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: IV. Chaconne grave
  23. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: V. Menuet
  24. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: VI. Gigue
  25. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: VII. Bourée
  26. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: VIII. Air de hautbois
  27. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: IX. Gavotte & double
  28. Nicolas Lebègue: Suite in G Major, Book II: X. Petitte chaconne