Voices of Music performs “La Cupis,” a movement from Rameau’s Cinquième Concert. Live, HD video from the the “Let’s Dance” concert in San Francisco, February, 2012.
An anonymous manuscript, titled Concerts en Sextuors and probably dating from the 1750s, contains an interesting arrangement of six of Rameau’s works scored for a group of six strings. In some cases, solo works for harpsichord are used as the model, in others, the music is sourced from Rameau’s ensemble compositions for harpsichord, violin (or flute) and viola da gamba from 1741, Pièces de clavecin en concert. What is unusual about this manuscript is that the virtuosic parts for the harpsichord are given to the string instruments: the arranger had a canny knowledge of Rameau’s harmonic style, and was able to skillfully integrate extended harmonic
sequences into the score. The ms. comes from the library of Jacques-Joseph-Marie Decroix, and although there is no evidence to support the theory that he was the arranger he is often given credit by virtue of ownership. There were many brilliant composers in France who had the ability to revise the compositions, but we may never know for sure who made these arrangements: it is customary in these cases to look to the students—Rameau dedicated many works to students and fellow composers—likely candidates include the encyclopedist Diderot, Anne Jeanne Boucon, Claude Balbastre and Antoine Davergne. The works have fanciful titles that
sometimes include Rameau’s colleagues; La Cupis refers to Jean-Baptiste Cupis, the French violinist.
Musicians (left to right, front to back)
Carla Moore & Kati Kyme, baroque violins
Elisabeth Reed, viola da gamba
David Tayler, archlute
Maxine Nemerovsky, baroque violin
Lisa Grodin, baroque viola
Hanneke van Proosdij, harpsichord
William Skeen, violone