American performer, writer and educator Andrew Appel embarks on an ambitious and exciting new project with Orchid Classics, releasing the complete Pièces de Clavecin by François Couperin over a period of two years, with a digital release of one Ordre each month.
Pièces de clavecin, Book 1, 2nd Ordre in D
1. Allemande La Laborieuse
2. Premiere Courante
3. Seconde Courante
4. Sarabande la Prude
9. Double des Canaries
12. La Charoloise
13. Fanfare pour la Suitte de la Diane
14. La Terpsicore
15. La Florentine
16. La Garnier
17. La Babet
18. Les Idées Heureuses
19. La Mimi
20. La Diligente
21. La Flateuse
22. La Voluptueuse
23. Les Papillons
This collection of pieces in D is the longest in all the books of Couperin and contains several masterpieces. Grace and nobility seem to reign. In his official portrait Couperin has one hand on the score to “Les Idées Heureuses”. It is a work of sonorous nostalgia and melancholy. ” La Garnier” a tribute work, sings out in the tenor range of the harpsichord combining sensuousness and rhetoric in a most poetical homage. “La Terpsicore” delineates dance gestures and paints the muse of movement. Debussy in his preludes owes much to the spirit and genius of this piece. The dance movements live in the courtly world of the chateau (the gavotte and courantes) or the rough and tumble world of the barnyard or village square (rigaudon and passepied). There are suites within the suite (for Diane) and there is not one genre or character piece that is not inspired in its choices of delicate dissonance and voluptuous harmonies.
The abundance of beats, trills, shakes in this second ordre empowers the music to enchant our hearts and move our souls. There is an intimacy here that touches, delights, and refreshes the way the first Parisian raspberry tarts open our spirit to spring each and every April.
Couperin wrote over 230 pieces for harpsichord, of which 226 were published in four volumes, grouped into 27 Ordres. With a digital release of one Ordre a month, this project will unfold over the course of two years, drawing listeners into these extraordinarily intricate and often witty pieces – many of which bear unusual titles that were probably nicknames or in-jokes, alluding to someone in Couperin’s circle whose character is depicted in that piece. Alongside these good-humoured pieces are moving works of great tenderness and depth.
For Andrew Appel, ‘Couperin is a deceptive genius!’ who combines ‘a simplicity of means and a wealth of sentiment.’ The deception comes from Couperin’s ability to beguile us with that apparent simplicity and then surprise us with a moment of pure magic: ‘In what might appear as a typical phrase, one note, one unexpected yet subtle dissonance in just the right place turns base metal into gold.’
Appel aims ‘for a marriage between Couperin’s wit, charm, elegance, nobility, and vision with my own delight, respect, and love of these four volumes of the most beautiful harpsichord music.’
‘I’ve followed Andrew Appel’s playing since I covered his debut program for the New York Time many years ago. With his mixture of grace, wit, authority and majesty, Mr. Appel has always seemed ideally suited to the works of Couperin, and this recording of the complete works is gratifying and a long-awaited gift.’
– Tim Page, Professor emeritus of Musicology, USC, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for criticism, Washington Post, 1997
Andrew Appel, Artistic Director of the Four Nations Ensemble, performs throughout Europe and the United States as soloist in many festivals including Italy’s Spoleto Festival, New York’s Mostly Mozart Festival, and the Redwoods Festival. In 2023 Appel was invited to join the performers at Music from Marlboro. As recitalist, Mr. Appel has performed at Carnegie and Avery Fisher Halls in New York, as well as halls from the Music Academy of the West to the Smithsonian in Washington DC. Along with his focus on The Four Nations Ensemble, he has been a guest artist of Chatham Baroque, the Smithsonian Players, and Orpheus. He serves as harpsichordist for opera companies and has toured with several European chamber orchestras. He has enjoyed critical acclaim for his solo recording of Bach works with Bridge Records as well as his fortepiano performances of Haydn for ASV. He and the Four Nations Ensemble presently record for Orchid Classical in London.
As a writer, Mr. Appel has written program notes and articles for presenters around the country including Lincoln Center, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, and National Public Radio. Mr. Appel has participated in discussions on education and chamber music programming at conferences of Chamber Music America, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, and the New York State Council on the Arts. He has served as President of the Board of Trustees of Chamber Music America. He has been regularly praised for pre-concert talks that contextualize the music and open areas of discovery for the audience.
A native of New York City, Appel discovered the harpsichord at 14 and began lessons with Tim Read and Igor Kipnis. First-prize winner of the Erwin Bodky Competition in Boston, he holds an international soloist degree from the Royal Conservatory in Antwerp where he worked with Kenneth Gilbert and a Doctorate from the Juilliard School under Albert Fuller. There he has taught harpsichord and music history. Appel has also taught harpsichord, chamber music, music history and humanities courses at Moravian College, Princeton University, and New York Polytech, now a division of New York University.
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