Music review: Christopher Rousset Harpsichord
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Christopher Rousset Harpsichord at St Cecilia’s Hall, reviewed by Susan Nickalls
The stars of this concert were the two harpsichords on stage – Thomas Barton’s beautiful 1709 solid walnut instrument and the exquisite Taskin, quite rightfully regarded as the world’s most famous harpsichord.
Christopher Rousset’s lack of articulation, sensitivity and finesse when it came to coaxing the different colours out of these instruments was regrettable. Louis Couperin’s Suite in D minor, is extremely complex when it comes to the ebb and flow of the rhythms -it requires the careful placing of ornaments so that they almost sound improvised. The final Chaconne should be majestic but here it was rushed completely losing the delightful sense of anticipation of Couperin’s beautifully choreographed notes inégales (unequal notes).
Rousset seemed to lack an inner stability which to intelligently shape the music. Rameau’s Suite in E minor, with the wonderful chirping birds in Le Rappel des oiseaux, was weighty and clumsy with too many fumbled notes. He also made no attempt to vary his touch, something that is crucial in an instrument with no controlled dynamics. The Taskin’s gorgeous silken timbre, particularly in the bass notes, should be a joy to listen to, but in Rousset’s hands, unfortunately it was not.