Nicolas Clérambault (1676–1749) is known as an organist and composer of many large-scale sacred and secular works in the France of Louis XIV and Louis XV – and he also wrote chamber music. This CD gathers chamber works that were collected and copied by the composer and theorist Sébastien de Brossard (1655–1730). These pieces were not published in Clérambault’s lifetime, perhaps because he was writing in the controversial Italian style. We owe their survival to Brossard. The five sontatas on the disc follow the Italian model of Corelli that was then gradually gaining popularity in France.
The titles that Clérambault gave to these sonatas seem just to have been a name, rather than any characterisation of the piece. In this recording, two of the five sonatas are introduced by an apparently improvised ‘unmeasured prelude’ for harpsichord, taken from his book Pièces de clavecin.
The disc also includes two chaconnes – one never before recorded – that live up to the aching pathos of the form. This is wonderfully expressive music that will surprise listeners. It forms a companion to The Bach Players’ recording of Élisabeth Jacquet de La Guerre’s sonatas, also collected and copied by Brossard, and which was published by Coviello Clasics in 2018.
Nicolas Clérambault (1676–1749):
Sonata VIIa in E minor: ‘La Magnifique’
Chaconne in D major
Prelude in C minor (transposed to D minor)
Sonata VIa in D minor: ‘L’Impromptu’
Sonata prima in G major: ‘Anonima’
Prelude in C major (transposed to B flat major)
Sonata IIIa in B flat major: ‘L’Abondance’
Sonata IIa in G major: ‘La Félicité’
Chaconne in A major
Nicolette Moonen violin
Oliver Webber violin
Reiko Ichise viola da gamba
Silas Wollston harpsichord
Recording & production
Recording producer: Moritz Bergfeld
Recording engineer: Aaron Holloway-Nahum
Recorded at St Michael’s Church, Highgate, London, 11 to 13 September 2018
The accompanying booklet has texts in English, German, and French, with notes on the music by Catherine Cessac, pre-eminent scholar of French Baroque music. There are photographs of the musicians in the recording. The CDs and booklet are held in a digipak.