In 2001, Blandine Rannou began her recording career with the complete harpsichord pieces of Jean-Philippe Rameau, the eminent eighteenth-century French composer and harpsichordist. She has since recorded the foremost German master of the same era, Johann Sebastian Bach (the French Suites, the English Suites, the Toccatas), and excerpts from L’Art de toucher le clavecin by François Couperin, another giant of the early eighteenth-century French school.
Her trajectory continues, taking her further into the territory of the great French harpsichord composers, with the virtuosity and expressive power of Jean-Baptiste Forqueray’s transcriptions of his father Antoine’s pieces for viola da gamba. Forqueray published these pieces in this form in 1747, but also for solo harpsichord (‘Mises en Pièces de Clavecin’). There is nothing especially astonishing in this: we know just how widespread recourse to transcription was at the time (‘these pieces can be played on . . .’). In fact, any piece for treble and basso continuo can be very naturally and easily played (‘reduced’?) on the harpsichord: the melody in the right hand, the bass and the figured chords in the left hand or shared between the two hands. In the case of pieces for the viol, however, the process is less straightforward, and undoubtedly more exciting, for several reasons: - The viol and its accompaniment share the same tessitura.