Ordre 23 by François Couperin
Couperin revitalized the Baroque traditions of the dance suite. He used titles which evoke personal character, natural surroundings, mythological figures or states of mind. The composer's understanding of the harpsichord's capabilities led him to create a vocabulary of textures and inflections, using keyboard conventions in an original way. This suite begins with L'Audacieuse (The Daring One), a piece consisting of angular dotted rhythms and daring rhetorical gestures. Les Tricoteuses (The Knitters) is a portrayal of clicking needles and miles of yarn. Things proceed at a fast clip until the ending, when a series of diminished chords depicts mailles-lachées (crossed stitches). L'Arlequin (Harlequin) is a simple tune which pictures the Commedia del Arte figure of an absurdly-costumed clown. In the extended rondeau Les Gondoles de Delos (The Gondolas of Delos) Couperin ventures into Classical allusion. According to myth Delos ws a floating island which was chained to the sea bottom by Jupiter, to make a haven for his children Apollo and Diana. An idyllic theme inscibed ""tender conversation"" in F major alternates with short episodes in minor keys. But the last piece in the suite returns to irony with a heavily-ornamented processional titled Les Satires, Chevre-pieds (Goat-footed Satyrs). The piece concludes with a rollicking burlesque in which growling chords and runaway scales suggest that the grunting satyrs are chasing the nymphs.
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