Ordre 21 by François Couperin
Couperin's twenty-first Ordre is included in his fourth book of harpsichord pieces which was published in 1730, three years before his death. The style of his final book differs from earlier works in the sophisticated use of seventh chords and the synthesis of then-common ornaments into novel combinations. Ordre 21 opens with La Reine des Coeurs (Queen of Hearts), a sarabande inscribed Lentement et très tendrement (slowly and very tenderly), producing an effect which is sinuous rather than brilliant. In the suite's second piece, La Bondissante (Jumping Dance), the quick tempo and repeated chords are in sharp contrast to the first. Detached notes play against a legato line, creating a sensation of leaping. La Couperin (Couperin's Piece), to be played "with moderate vivacity", begins with a counterpoint between clipped melodic phrases. Later in the piece they appear in together, suggesting shortness of breath. A reflection of Couperin's ill health? La Harpée (In Harp Style) presents overlapping legato and witty cross-accented groups which Couperin exploits with increasing intensity at the end. La Petite Pince-sans-rire (The Nasty Little Trick) satirizes the affectation which pervaded the competetive atmosphere of court. The composer commiserates with the poor victim, but the suite concludes with a philosophical shrug.
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