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Gradus ad Parnassum (Jean Rondeau)

Jean Rondeau (harpsichord) (Erato)

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

Gradus ad Parnassum
Haydn: Piano Sonata No. 31 in A flat, Hob.XVI:46; plus works by Beethoven, Clementi, Debussy, Fux, Mozart and Palestrina
Jean Rondeau (harpsichord)
Erato 5419741617   80:24 mins


Jean Rondeau’s album Gradus ad Parnassum pays homage to musicians closely associated with the didactic traditions which have fostered the creation and learning of works for keyboard, including Johann Joseph Fux and Muzio Clementi. Other pieces, by Palestrina, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Debussy enable him to demonstrate the harpsichord’s versatility. Made in 2006 by Jonte Knif and Arno Pelto, his harpsichord sounds very much at home in the acoustics of the Salle de Musique at La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland.

In his day Palestrina’s two ricercars may well have been performed on something like a clavicytherium, but these works need a greater sense of forward momentum, especially since they bookend the rest of the repertoire. In the Fux pieces Rondeau is magisterial and mercurial, despite not treating us to the Fuga which usually follows the Harpeggio. He comes into his own in those works now most often heard on the piano. Rondeau’s interpretations of this music suggest that for the likes of Haydn, Clementi, Beethoven and Debussy, harpsichord sonorities were very much in their mind’s ear. In particular, Rondeau’s imaginative transformations of canonical repertoire by Mozart personify the intimate alliance between instrument, text and act.


Ingrid Pearson