Saturday, October 08, 2011


Son: I just don't get the French Baroque.

Mom: Huh?

Son: I don't understand at all Couperin the Great. [François Couperin (1668 – 1733)] I have recordings of his contemporary [Domenico] Scarlatti (1685 – 1757). Him I get. So why should the same harpsichordist playing music from the same period sound so different?

Mom: Well, there you have a misconception. Scarlatti is Baroque, but Couperin is considered Rococo. In fact he is more or less considered to have invented Rococo. With Scarlatti the music is in the notes. With Couperin the music is in the ornaments.

Son: I usually think you should just leave the ornaments out.

Mom: In the case of Scarlatti you could probably get away with that. In the case of Couperin nothing would be left. You need someone who understands the Rococo style.

Son: Why should it make any difference with a harpsichord?

Mom: I have a friend who wrote a book on expression on the harpsichord.

Footnote: We really do have conversations like this all the time. We agree that I shouldn't suppress my inner nerd. If I have to play to the masses, it isn't any fun.

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