Christ Church Cathedral
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Artists: Contrasto Armonico
Born in 1668, François Couperin was the only son of Charles Couperin, the harpsichordist and organist at the old Parisian Church of Saint-Gervais. During his lifetime, François Couperin, the most illustrious member of a distinguished musical family, was highly esteemed, both as performer (on the organ and the harpsichord), and as composer, and it was his contemporaries who conferred upon him the surname of “The Great.”
Les Nations is a vast project of extended trio sonatas in which the virtues of both the French and Italian styles are set next to each other. Each of the four Ordres celebrates a Catholic power of Europe, France, Spain, the Holy Roman Empire and the Savoy dynasty of Piedmont, and each is a combination of an Italianate trio sonata with its free-form virtuosity and a large-scale and elaborate French dance suite.
Although the collection was published in 1726, some of the pieces were composed by Couperin some thirty or more years earlier, inspired by his enthusiasm for the newly-discovered Italian instrumental style, like many other composers of his generation.