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This recording of Couperin’s Messe pour les paroisses and Messe pour les couvents was made on a fine French parish church organ in not-too-resonant acoustics. Unlike Couperin’s instrument at St-Gervais, Paris, which was based on a 16ft Montre, the Seurre organ is an 8ft instrument (without a Larigot), so registrational compromises were necessary. James Johnstone is right to add extra ornaments to the sparsely ornamented manuscript-based editions (only the title page was printed in 1690), but his adoption of notes inégales appears to be based on simplistic information. ‘Blanket’ inégalité in the Italianate movements does become tiresome. Further awareness of Couperin’s distinction between French and Italian styles is needed. Anglebert’s five fugues and Quatuor (composed in the 1660s and ornamented for publication in 1689) supplement the Couvent Mass, but the Quatuor is played on only two manuals (with Pedal) rather than three (simultaneously) as Anglebert suggests (although technically demanding).

DAVID PONSFORD Read the full review on Agora Classica


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