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GRAMOPHONE (03/2015)
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Erato 2564622009

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Reviewer: Jed Distler

Jean Rondeau’s programme largely consists of Bach works for other instruments, transcribed for harpsichord by the composer and others. Rondeau evidently listens as well as he plays. The opening C minor Suite’s four movements are shaped with character, specificity and impressive hand independence. In Bach’s transcription of his A minor Violin Sonata, Rondeau’s deliberately decorative Adagio and Allegro markedly contrast with Andreas Staier’s faster, more rhythmically orientated treatments (Warner, 12/98). Rondeau’s slower pace and subtle finger legato in the Fugue relate more to violin phrasing, although the sustained resonance of the Andante’s bass notes proudly shows off his instrument’s vibrant lung power; here I slightly prefer Staier’s understated lute stop.


Brahms’s piano transcription of the D minor Violin Partita’s Chaconne for left hand alone works surprisingly well on the harpsichord, abetted by Rondeau’s stylish rhythmic liberties and ability to translate pedal effects through fingerwork and voicing. Via Stéphane Delplace’s reworking, the A minor Solo Flute Partita becomes fleshed out with convincingly Bachian counterpoint and filled-in harmonies. The thick textures of Bach’s own G major Solo Violin Sonata Adagio transcription gain breathing space and gravitas through Rondeau’s expansive continuity. He expertly projects the Italian Concerto’s solo/tutti designations, yet his fastidious articulation slightly sacrifices forward impetus when measured alongside kindred conceptions from Scott Ross and Kenneth Gilbert. The warm, full-bodied and well-balanced recorded sound further enhances Rondeau’s thoughtful artistry.



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