|Claude Debussy ||Suite Bergamasque|
|Jean-Philippe Rameau ||Le Rappel des Oiseaux|
|Maurice Ravel ||Tombeau de Couperin|
The longevity of Baroque forms in French music characterizes the historical consciousness and the feeling of a national tradition typical to many a 20th-century French composer. Ravel and Debussy, for instance, are two examples of prominent Frenchmen who greatly admired their fellow countryman and composer, Jean-Philippe Rameau.
The French dance suite dates from the time of Louis XIV; it typically consists of an overture followed by a number of dance forms: dances that today refer to purely musical forms such as the menuet and toccata, as well as names that at most tickle our imagination, such as the Italian forlane, the gigue, the rigaudon and the gavotte. The popular French suite was copied with great enthusiasm: Bach, for instance, employed this form in his cello suites and violin partitas.
Of Rameau´s numerous compositions for harpsichord, Le Rappel des oiseaux (1724) is certainly the most audacious and brilliant. The composer later recycled musical material for larger-scale orchestra works, and in doing so provided arranger Raaf Hekkema with a fine model for his arrangement of Le Rappel des oiseaux for reed quintet.
The elegant and stylish music stemming from an era of powdered wigs, golden buckles and intimately whispered conversations appealed dearly to Ravel: in Le tombeau de Couperin (1914-1917) Ravel glances back to the time of the composer François Couperin.
Debussy´s Suite Bergamasque (1890-1905) veers the furthest from the original Baroque form. The piece can be regarded as one of the first truly Impressionist compositions and as a breakthrough in Debussy´s own writing. The title and musical atmosphere refer to the poem Clair de Lune by Paul Verlaine, which begins thus: Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmer masques et bergamasques