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Les Nations, Volume 2

Couperin: Les Nations, Volume 2

The Classical Shop
release date: October 2006

Recorded in 24 Bit / 96Khz
album available as a Studio Master
Originally recorded in 2006


Purcell Quartet


St Bartholemews Church, Orford, Suffolk


Rachel Smith


Jonathan Cooper

Michael Common


Record Label



Early Music

Total Time - 65:13
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Les Nations, Volume 2



Select Complete Single Disc for

Second Prélude from 'L'Art de Toucher le Clavecin'*

  in D minor - in d-Moll - en ré mineur  

Les Nations, Troisième Ordre 'L'Impériale'

2 I Gravement - 2:14
3 II Vivement - 1:33
4 III Gravement, et marqué - Tres lentement - 1:17
5 IV Rondeau. Légérement - 2:14
6 V Rondement - 1:14
7 VI Vivement 2:26
8 VII Allemande. Sans lenteur 2:30
9 VIII Courante 1:54
10 IX Seconde Courante. Plus marquée 1:53
11 X Sarabande. Tendrement 2:44
12 XI Bourée. Gayment 0:47
13 XII Gigue. D'une légéreté moderée 1:10
14 XIII Rondeau. Gayement - Premier Couplet - 2:18
15 XIV Chaconne. [ ] - Mineut - Gayement 5:11
16 XV Menuet 1:13

Treizième Concert à 2 instruments à L'unison†

17 I Vivement 1:00
18 II Air. Agréablement 2:25
19 III Sarabande. Tendrement 3:41
20 IV Chaconne. Légere 2:13

Troisième Prélude from 'L'Art de Toucher le Clavecin'*

  in G minor - in g-Moll - en sol mineur  

Les Nations, Quatrième Ordre 'La Piémentoise'

22 I Gravement - 1:49
23 II Vivement 0:47
24 III Gravement 1:28
25 IV Vivement, et marqué - Lentement 1:17
26 V Air. Gracieusement 0:49
27 VI Second Air 0:49
28 VII Gravement et marqué - 0:40
29 VIII Légérement 0:58
30 IX Allemande. Noblement, et sans lenteur 2:45
31 X Courante 1:31
32 XI Seconde Courante. Un peu plus gayement 2:01
33 XII Sarabande. Tendrement 3:03
34 XIII Rondeau. Gayedment - Premier Couplet - 2:33
35 XIV Gigue. Affectuëusement, quoy que légérement 2:19
There are few recordings of Les Nations, a collection of sonatas and suites in which Couperin further developed the style established in his famous sets of Concerts royaux.

Les Nations contains some of Couperin’s most expressive and inventive music. The composer’s use of dance forms in these works ensures a wide spectrum of mood and colour.

The Purcell Quartet is one of the most distinguished authentic-performance groups today, whose baroque recordings on the Chaconne label are highly respected.

This is the second, concluding volume of Les Nations.

François Couperin was the finest composer at the court of Louis XIV, the Sun King. In view of the fact that Versailles was the most vainglorious court in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Europe, it is remarkable to realise that Couperin was both personally and artistically discreet and modest. His musical portraits of people and his descriptions of scenes and events were more often intimate, comic and tender than pompously ceremonial. He wrote some extremely beautiful and genuinely spiritual music for ecclesiastical use and produced instrumental music for both strings and woodwind for the delectation of the King and nobility.

Couperin greatly admired Italian baroque composers such as Corelli, and his sonatas demonstrate his lifelong commitment to uniting, in his music, the best of both French and Italian musical conventions. Les Nations is the title under which Couperin published a collection of four large-scale sonatas, and the final two are recorded here, along with one of the Concerts royaux and two preludes from L’Art de Toucher le Clavecin. The first volume was excellently well received, and it is a delight to complete the set.

The Purcell Quartet responds naturally to the rhetoric of the music, particularly in the way they grow towards and relish Couperin’s expressive dissonances
Early Music

These are attractive works whose idiom nonetheless often eludes convincing performance. Couperin was a stickler for detail and was meticulous in matters of ornamentation. The Purcell Quartet have taken trouble over this and the results are rewarding.
BBC Music Magazine

Indeed, these are lovely readings, the Purcell Quartet’s elegant restraint perfectly suited to Couperin’s civilized musical language. Each movement is cleanly sculpted, the sinuous lines of the slower material (even when disrupted by profuse ornamentation as in the Sarabandes) contrasted with the sharply defined articulation of faster passages and Woolley’s sonorous utterances. You’re not looking at a sculpture; your not even running your hands over its smooth surfaces; you’re witnessing the shape unfolding in time. This is unexpectedly powerful: listen to the fugal textures of the second ‘Vivement’ of ‘L’Imperiale’ or the ‘Chaconne’ from the same ‘ordre’… Jonathan Copper’s sound recording is intimate and detailed and Richard Langham Smith’s booklet notes are a pleasure to read. And if that’s not enough, you get a marvellous Poussin on the front cover!
International Record Review

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