The Mirror of Human Life: Reflections on Francois Couperin's Pieces de Clavecin Paperback – Jan 12 2011
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There are also two essays in the book on cultural background by Jane Clark, and the literary scene by Derek Connon; both are scholarly, fascinating accounts, and are well worth reading. I would recommend them highly not only to musicians, but also to anyone interested in theater, art, and French history. They are accessible and scholarly at the same time, which is quite rare. For scholars, there is a fine bibliography at the end that can lead to additional information and sources on which the research was based.
The remainder of the book is devoted to a catalogue of the meaning of titles in Couperin's harpsichord music. It makes for fascinating reading too. Sometimes the authors suggest more than one possible interpretation, so no one should approach the information here as definitive. As the authors point out, there could still be hidden meanings that have not yet been discovered. What might occasionally go a bit far for some readers (although it could also be welcome to others) is the musical application of the meanings; some of them are pictorial and frankly programmatic. I might have preferred to let performers find their own applications of the meaning, which would be a more personal way of approaching the music. Nevertheless, this is a fascinating look at Couperin's world, and it's enjoyable to read, whether one is a performer or not.