Ketil Haugsand records the complete works for harpsichord solo by Jean-Philippe Rameau, marking 250 years since the death of the French composer
The young Rameau must have been an outstanding harpsichordist. He likely learned basic keyboard skills as a child from his father, Jean Rameau, who was organist at Notre Dame cathedral in Dijon by the time Jean-Philippe was seven. Rameau published his Premier Livre de Pièces de clavecin in 1706. Remarkable for its unerring sense of harmonic direction and sophisticated rhythmic and textural designs, it consists essentially of a traditional suite of dance movements prefaced by an introductory prelude.
Nearly twenty years elapsed before Rameau published his second book of harpsichord pieces. The Pièces de Clavecin of 1724 represents a huge stylistic advance over the collection he published in 1706. In the interim, he had composed several cantatas and had become increasingly interested in the theatre. Rameau’s third book of harpsichord pieces, the Nouvelles suites de Pièces de clavecin. appeared in 1729 or 1730. Rameau published his Pièces de Clavecin en concerts in 1741. Although the entire suite was originally intended as a chamber work for harpsichord and two melodic instruments, Rameau insisted that each piece could be arranged for solo harpsichord with no loss of expressive potential.
Ketil Haugsand, professor of harpsichord at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, counts as one of the great harpsichordists and Early Music personalities of today. The Norwegian born musician studied with Gustav Leonhardt at the Amsterdam Conservatory, where he was awarded the coveted ‘Prix d’Excellence’ in 1975. Later he was laureate at international harpsichord competitions in Paris and Bruges. He has appeared in many prestigious festivals in Europe, the U.S.A. and Israel, both as recitalist, in chamber music and as conductor of the Norwegian Baroque Orchestra and the Arte Real Ensemble. His recordings on CD with works by Bach, Rameau, Marchand, Forqueray, Seixas, Sousa Carvalho a/o. for Simax Classics, Virgin and Linn have won significant international acclaim.