Original Instrumentation Form: harpsichord solo; 2 harpsichords
Composer: François Couperin
First Publication: 1722 – Paris
Piece Style: Baroque
Composer Time Period: Late Baroque
Couperin’s four volumes of harpsichord music, published in Paris in 1713, 1717, 1722, and 1730, contain over 230 individual pieces, which can be played on solo harpsichord or performed as small chamber works. These pieces were not grouped into suites, as was the common practice, but ordres, which were Couperin’s own version of suites containing traditional dances as well as descriptive pieces. The first and last pieces in an ordre were of the same tonality, but the middle pieces could be of other closely-related tonalities. These volumes were loved by J.S. Bach and, much later, Richard Strauss, as well as Maurice Ravel who memorialized their composer with Le Tombeau de Couperin (A Memorial to Couperin).
Of all the harpsichord repertoire, the works penned by the French Baroque composers were intrinsically wedded to the instrument. One of the most remarkable pieces in the entire harpsichord repertoire is François Couperin’s Le Tic-Toc-Choc ou Les Maillotins, a pièce croisée (cross piece) from his Dixhuitiéme Ordre (18th Order) published in his Troisième Livre (3rd Book) of 1722.
The composer kindly refers us to the preface of his third volume of harpsichord pieces for instructions on how to play the piece. He writes:
“In this 3rd book are to be found pieces which I call Pièce-croisées…those that are so designated should be played on two Manuals, one of which should be pulled out or withdrawn [ie uncoupled]. Those who have a Harpsichord with only one Manual, or a spinet, will play the upper part as written, and the Bass an octave lower; when the Bass cannot be taken an octave lower, then the upper part will have to be moved up an octave. Pieces of this kind, moreover, are suitable for two flutes or oboes, as well as for two Violins, two Viols and other instruments of equal pitch, it being understood that those who play them will adapt them to their own range.”
|For Harpsichord||For Piano||For 2 Guitars||For 2 Flutes||For Piano Quintet|