The Rebirth of the Harpsichord Jean Rondeau in recital

Jean Rondeau – master of the harpsichord
Jean Rondeau at St Peter`s Eaton Square for Baroque at the Edge Festival
I would not have thought it possible to come away these days from a harpsichord recital exhilarated,uplifted and excited as one might from a recital by a great virtuoso pianist.
I was brought up on Landowska and later George Malcom which became unfashionable with the advent of original instruments .
Tortelier used to say that he would play Bach in a so called authentic baroque way when they discovered an authentic baroque recording studio.
At last listening on video recordings to a  young french harpsichordist looking like a pop star but playing in such an exciting virtuoso manner.
Winner of the First Prize at the International Harpsichord Competition in Bruges at only 21 at last at only 26 he is beginning to make a name for himself.
Here at last is a master of his instrument that can play with the passionate intelligence that the masterpieces of Rameau Royer,Couperin and Bach need to bring them alive.
Someone from the younger generation who is not reverently afraid of this rather delicate looking instrument.
Reading in the programme that the 59 year old Rameau was threatened with ‘twenty kicks in the stomach’ by his rival Royer’s companion and that Les sauvages was inspired by the exotic dancing of two American Indians in the Theatre Italien in Paris.
It could almost be a headline from todays newspapers.
And reading in the Telegraph review today of Peter Ackroyd’s book that speaks of officials inspecting in 1538 the dormitories and cloisters of monasteries and found ‘gelded youths,debaucheries,catamites,boy things,pederasts,sodomites ,Gannymedes’.
So why should the music of that period not portray the passions and human frailty as only music can?
This respectfully whispered baroque music as it is so often portrayed does not reveal the passions that lie behind the notes of these remarkable works of genius.
All too rarely an artist such as Jean Rondeau a real virtuoso, appears on the scene to reveal in all its glory the music of this so called baroque period.
Unbelievable that such a small delicate looking instrument could contain such colour,excitement and passion.
The incredible excitement generated in the Gavotte avec les doubles de la Gavotte by Rameau or the wonderful characterisation of the famous La poule.
 Where such extraordinary distortions of rhythm ( for you cannot call it rubato) were so telling .
The frantic rhythm of Les Sauvages too but also the incredible sounds in the ultra modern L’enharmonique.
The build up in the Marche de Scythes by Royer that closed this short programme was quite overwhelming .
A use of ornaments that was totally unobtrusive but allowed a legato line and could produce a totally mesmerising architectural shape combined with an extraordinarily subtle palate of colour.
Famous piece by Couperin as an encore concluded this extraordinarily exhilarating recital.
He can be heard again invited by the Keyboard Charitable Trust in the Historic Instrument Series guided by its co artistic director Elena Vorotko :Handel House (sometimes referred to as Jimmy Hendrix House) in Mayfair on 13th June at 18.30 and at Hatchlands Park- The Cobbe Collection- in Guildford at 12 noon on the 14th.
In programme the Goldberg Variations by J.S.Bach .
I have also just been told by our friends at the Amici della Musica di Padua who have a close collaboration with the Keyboard Trust that Jean Rondeau will play in their prestigious series next season on 13th March 2018.
A rising star indeed !

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