Courtesy of Naxos of America
This past February there was a curious glitch in the way in which Centaur Records was rolling out its releases for harpsichordist Mark Kroll’s project to record the complete keyboard works of François Couperin. The third volume in this series had been released in October of 2017; but this was followed, this past February, with the release of the fifth volume! One sad result of this disruption is that I spent more time venting over my frustrations with Centaur than with accounting for the highly satisfying contents of that fifth volume.
I am now pleased to report that, as of the beginning of this month, order has been restored to Kroll’s universe of Couperin’s keyboard music. Amazon.com now has a Web page for the fourth volume; and, while stock is low, orders are definitely being processed and additional stock is “on the way.” Once again this is a single CD presenting three of the ordres , the seventh in G (“major-minor”), the nineteenth in D major-minor, and the 21st in E minor.
Once again it is clear that Kroll has been giving particular attention to selecting specific instruments for each of the ordres he records. The harpsichord maker that dominates this fourth volume is Pascal Taskin. The nineteenth and 21st ordres are played on a 1769 Taskin instrument from a private collection. (This is the same instrument that was used to record the 22nd ordre on the fifth volume.) The seventh ordre, on the other hand, is played on a harpsichord made by William Dowd in 1974; but the instrument is based on Taskin designs.
Sadly, Centaur continues to be consistently negligent in providing background information, either by including the CD booklet as part of their download or by making that information available on their Web Site (which seems to have been abandoned in 2015). Therefore, it is difficult (if not impossible) to find a reliable source that explains why particular instruments were chosen for particular ordres. Suffice it to say that there is consistent clarity across all of the pieces that Kroll plays on this new release. Presumably that clarity depends on choice of instrument as well as Kroll’s own technique, but the nature of that dependence is left as an exercise for the listener!