Jean-philippe Rameau: The Complete Keyboard Music, Vol. 2

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The second volume in pianist Stephen Gutman’s three-disc survey of Rameau’s complete keyboard music begins with the composer’s harpsichord transcriptions of the ballet music from...
The second volume in pianist Stephen Gutman’s three-disc survey of Rameau’s complete keyboard music begins with the composer’s harpsichord transcriptions of the ballet music from his opera Les Indes galantes, heard in what appears to be their first recording on a modern concert grand. Gutman’s booklet notes present detailed analyses of how Rameau carefully went about his business of “de-orchestration”. Happily, Gutman does not feel the need to flesh out the keyboard writing, and makes expressive points through tone color, subtle dynamic contrasts, and articulation. Discreet agogic stresses help to point up a melodic phrase or give appropriate weight to a bass note when needed, as in the Vivement movement, or in the sophisticated accentuation of the ascending imitative arpeggios in the final pair of Gavottes.

The Third Suite receives an equally commanding performance, and its virtues can be illuminated through comparative listening. For example, in the second-movement variation set Les niais de Sologne, Jill Crossland’s recent recording focuses on the right-hand melody as the phrases fall into generic four- and eight-bar patterns. Robert Casadesus’ strong legato left-hand presence adds more linear tension to the mix. By contrast, Gutman anchors his right-hand legato line with the left-hand counterpoint played in a detached yet tellingly inflected manner that gives shape to implied cross-rhythmic patterns.

The concluding Les Cyclopes fuses incisive brilliance and refinement, while Gutman’s transcription of the B-flat concerto is a model of poised fingerwork and tonal application. Nor do the relatively modest demands of the concluding Gavotte and the Menuet en rondeau (the latter lasts just half a minute, not four minutes as inaccurately noted on the back cover) lack for understated elegance. What is more, Toccata Classics’ engineering captures Gutman’s warm timbre in an ambience akin to an intimate room suitable for both instrument and repertoire. A lovely disc in every way, and I look forward to this cycle’s imminent completion.

-- Jed Distler, ClassicsToday.com


Product Description:


  • Release Date: April 30, 2013


  • UPC: 5060113440518


  • Catalog Number: TOCC0051


  • Label: Toccata Classics


  • Number of Discs: 1


  • Composer: Jean-Philippe Rameau


  • Performer: Stephen Gutman