These seminal works of the French Baroque era are brought to life vividly by Devine, mainly marking the earlier part of Rameau’s career and charting the development of the future prolific opera and ballet composer. The three books of Pièces de Clavecin are joined by the Cinq Pièces (derived from the Pièces de Clavecin en Concert), and the individual work La Dauphine.
Also included is the substantial compendium Les Indes Galantes – keyboard transcriptions that Rameau himself made from his own opera-ballet of the same name composed in 1735/6. In these transcriptions Devine is joined by harpsichordist Robin Bigwood who lends a third hand in select movements, while the entire set is recorded on a copy by Ian Tucker of the Ruckers/Hemsch harpsichord in Hatchlands’ Cobbe Collection.
“[The harpsichord’s] sonorities are clear and penetrating yet never strident, and lend themselves both to the music and to Devine’s meticulous technique. Take ‘La Follette’ from the D minor Suite, for example, where Devine shades the repeats with subtle changes in articulation, while imparting a gentle lilt to the rhythm that gives a sense of air between the notes. His legato mastery particularly reveals itself in slower movements, such as the A minor Suite’s Sarabandes. Here you’ll notice Devine’s strongly independent hands, and how his minuscule finger overlappings create sustained, vocally orientated lines. This also pertains to Devine’s introspective and lyrical way with ‘L’entretien des Muses’.” Review in Gramophone Magazine of Disc 1
“Devine is a superb musical guide – varied, expressive, technically agile – but he has provided, too, helpful and clear programme notes on the stylistic challenges of this music. You won’t find a better exponent than Devine.” The Observer, June 17th 2018
“There are several factors that separate Steven Devine’s playing from the many competitors. These include the outstanding sensitivity of his playing, ranging from his choice of sensible speeds, mercifully slower than the speed merchants, to the delicacy of his touch and the refinement of his articulation.” Andrew Benson-Wilson, June 2018
“His general approach inclines towards the thoughtful and restrained which is a welcome contrast to those virtuosos who set out to demonstrate that they are exactly that. ” Early Music Review, July 2018
“Devine‘s playing is impeccable and faithful to historical practices, and the sound of the double-manual harpsichord, a modern copy of an instrument by Andreas Ruckers, is robust and closely recorded. Highly recommended.” Allmusic.com, July 2018
“This is an essential set, and not just for the inclusion of Les Indes Galantes, Steven Divine opens up the music of the suites to a more thoughtful performance, one which does not rely on fireworks to show the mastery of Rameau as a composer of keyboard music. Divine’s booklet notes are excellent and include some quotes from the composer himself that add an air of authenticity. The recorded sound is quite natural with the acoustic helping to bring the best out of the instrument.” MusicWeb International, June 2018