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Home » French Composers » Louis Couperin

Louis Couperin

From Skip Sempé's liner notes to his recent recording on Alpha: "Believe it or not, we do not really know for sure whether this Couperin is Louis or another member of the Couperin family. Louis Couperin was a known viol player and organist: it was his brother Charles who had an outstanding reputation as a harpsichordist. Charles Couperin was the father of François Couperin 'Le Grand', which may lead us to wonder if the finest eighteenth century French harpsichordist was actually trained by his father, rather than his uncle? As a further complication of the issue, the organ pieces of 'Louis Couperin' have recently been published, and it has been suggested that the manuscript source of these organ works represents an autograph of Louis Couperin. There is some disagreement on this matter. However, the harpsichord works are so much more interesting on grounds of musical content and finesse of style that I find it hard to imagine that these organ pieces are the work of the same composer. I have suggested that even if Louis Couperin was the scribe, does this lend real certainty as the composer of the music he was transmitting in his own hand? Perhaps we will never know."


Biography from the New Grove 2


Clairs Obscurs. Louis Couperin. Pièces de orgue. Henri DuMont, Motets. Ligia Lidi 0109268-14 (1 CD, May 2014). Laurent Beyhurst, historical organ (1699) by Julien Tribout in Seurre. Le Concert Tribuot. Catherine Greuillet, soprano; Françoise Masset, soprano; Sylvie Althaparro, mezzo-soprano; Sylvie Moquet, bass viol. UK | FR | DE | JP
Louis Couperin. Louis Couperin Edition Volume 3: Chaconne de Mr Couperin. Aeolus AE 10124 (1 CD, June 2013).  Bob van Asperen, original anonymous French harpsichord c.1700. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Louis Couperin. Complete Harpsichord Works. Harmonia Mundi HMU 907511/14 (4 CDs, August 2011). Richard Egarr, harpsichord. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Louis Couperin. Suites pour Clavecin - Pavane. Aparté 006 (2 CDs, May 2010). Christophe Rousset, harpsichord. Louis Denis harpsichord (1658). Rousset has selected Couperin's""very finest pieces" and for generally followed the order of the Parville manuscript. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Louis Couperin. Passacaille de Mr Couperin. Louis Couperin Edition Volume 2. Aeolus AE-10114 (1 CD, November 2008). Details / Recording the Vaudry. Bob van Asperen, 1681 Vaudry harpsichord. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Louis Couperin. Préludes de Mr Couperin. Louis Couperin Edition Volume 1. Aeolus AE-10094 (1 CD, October 2006). Details. Bob van Asperen, anonymous French harpsichord c.1650 at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg (Beurmann). US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Louis Couperin. Pièces pour Clavecin. Aeon AE0751 (1 CD, July 2007). Jovanka Marville, 1658 Denis harpsichord. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Louis Couperin. 5 Suites pour Clavecin. Ligia Digital Lidi 010117006 (1 CD, November 2006). Huguette Grémy-Chauliac. Donzelague harpsichord (Lyon 1716). FR | DE
Louis Couperin. Pièces d'Orgue (1650-1659). Toccata Records Ridderkerk TRR 99012 (1 CD, January 2006). Details. Pieter Dirksen, Andries Severijn Organ (Liège c.1640-1650) now at the Martinuskerk, Cuijk, Netherlands. FR | UK | DE | JP
Louis Couperin. Pièces de clavecin. Alpha 066 (1 CD, September 2004). Details. Skip Sempé, French double harpsichord by Bruce Kennedy. 2004 Best Baroque Keyboard Recording. Brisk performances of the unmeasured preludes and slowest movements. The f-sharp minor pavanne takes only 6'08, versus 9'03 by Spieth and 7'59 by Verlet. US | FR | UK | DE | CA | JP
M-A Charpentier, Henry Dumont, Gaspard Le Roux & Louis Couperin. Cantica Nativitatis 1676. Ligia Digital 020215204 (1 CD, November 2004). Olivier Vernet, direction & organ. Catherine Greuillet & Noémi Rime, sopranos; François Bazoloa, bass. A collection of vocal and instrumental music for the liturgical seasons of Advent and Christmas. US | FR | DE | CA

Le Regret de Louis Couperin. Pièces de violes de Louis Couperin, Henry Dumont, Marin Marais, Sieur Demanchy, Sieur de Sainte Colombe. Ligia Digital 301138 (1 CD, August 2004). Anne-Marie Lasla, viol; Sylvie Moquet, viol; Jonathan Cable, bass violin; Olivier Vernet, organ. FR | DE | UK

Louis Couperin. Pièces pour clavessin. Pierre Verany 796112 (1 CD, 1996). Details. Laurent Stewart, harpsichord by Vincent Tibaut, Toulouse 1681, tuned to A=400 mean-tone. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP
Reissued on PV 709091 (2009). UK | FR | DE
Louis Couperin. L'Oeuvre de Clavecin. Noëlle Spieth, harpsichord. One disc in each volume was recorded on a 17th Century French single by Emil Jobin, and the other was recorded on a 17th Century French double by Jobin. This is my personal favorite of the three complete sets.

Volume 1. Adès 202 372 (2 CDs 1993). UK | DE | FR | JP

Volume 2. Adès 202 672 (2 CDs 1993). US | UK | DE | FR | CA

Louis Couperin. Les Pièces de clavessin. Astrée E8506 (5 CDs 1987-92). Blandine Verlet. Performed on the Colmar Ruckers. US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Reissued on E8819 (2001): US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Louis Couperin. L'oeuvre d'orgue. Tempéraments TEM 316001/3 (3 CDs 1995). Davitt Moroney. Jean-Boizard organ (1714), Abbaye de Saint-Michel-en-Thiérache. Newly discovered in the 20th Century, but hoarded by an eccentric English collector, the music finally was published by L'Oiseau-Lyre, Monaco. The single disk by Jansen on FNAC 522291 (1994) was performed on the same organ. Perhaps someday the pieces will be recorded with alternating plainchant. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP

Reissued on Tempéraments 316101/103 (2003): UK | FR | DE

Louis Couperin. The Complete Harpsichord Works. Harmonia Mundi HM 1124/28 (5 LPs 1983), reissued as HMA 1901124/7 (4 CDs 1989). Davitt Moroney, harpsichord. Instruments: Albert Delin (1768), Couchet-Taskin (1671), Bellot le Père (1729). US | UK | DE | FR | CA | JP

Reissued. UK | DE | FR | JP

Related Composers

Jacques Champion de Chambonnières. Pièces de clavecin: Suites, Pavannes & Preludes. dhm 05472 77210 2 (1 CD 1993). Skip Sempé, Antique Flemish harpsichord. The best harpsichord recording I've heard. US | UK | FR | DE | CA | JP

Cheap Baroque Esprit reissue, which undoubtedly lacks the original's liner notes by Sempé. dhm 05472 77453 2 (1997). US | UK | DE | FR | JP

Jacques Champion de Chambonnières. Les Pièces de Clavessin. AS Musique ASM001 (2 CDs, February 2004). Details. Olivier Baumont, antique 17th Century harpsichord; Claire Antonini, theorbo & lute; Jean-Denis Monory, narrator. UK | FR | DE | JP
Nicolas Antoine Lebègue (c.1631-1702). Pièces de Clavessin (1677 & 1687). Stradivarius STR33673 (1 CD, March 2004). Details. Paola Erdas, harpsichord. US | FR | UK | DE | CA | JP

Jean-Henri D'Anglebert

Johann Jacob Froberger


Louis Couperin. Oeuvres de Clavecin. 2d modern edition, edited by Davitt Moroney. Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre, Monaco, OL 58 (1985, reprinted in 2004). Moroney stripped out the ornaments from the first edition, since they were not contemporary with LC. While historically correct, this places a great burden on the amateur harpsichordist (used to playing FC) to select appropriate ornamentation. The lengthy introduction is, to date, the best biography of LC in English.
Louis Couperin. Pièces d'Orgue. Transcribed and edited by Guy Oldham. Éditions de l'Oiseau-Lyre, Monaco, OL 300 (2003). 144 pages. The Oldham manuscript finally has been published. Unfortunately, the closest organs to New York with French baroque registration are in Montreal and Stanford, CA. This volume contains the music text of the 70 pieces, "as well as the relevant plainchant melodies with their texts to facilitate alternatim performance, a facsimile page, editor's notes, and a Critical Commentary." It will be followed later by a companion publication consisting of extended prefatory material, including a description of the source, information on the organs played by Louis Couperin, and suggestions for performance.


John Koster. Keyboard Instruments in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Museum of Fine Arts, 1994. 408 pages. 16 color illustrations, 242 duotones, 79 line drawings. See pages 39-46 for details and pictures of a 1667 French double harpsichord, one a handful of survivors from the era of Louis Couperin. Unlike more familiar 18th Century French instruments, the frame and soundboard ribbing are very light, and a few fragments of wire show that the strings were very thin. Scaling was lengthened in a ravalement in which five notes were added. Unfortunately, the increased string tension caused the case to distort. Koster does not speculate as to the original pitch of this instrument. US | UK | DE

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