Sunday, July 10, 2016

Couperin by Maurice Hewitt

Maurice Hewitt
In time for Bastille Day this year, another artifact from Occupied France, from a member of the Resistance, the violinist and conductor Maurice Hewitt (1884-1971). Hewitt, in earlier years a member of the Quatour Capet and of the Société des Instruments Anciennes, was also the founder of the acclaimed label "Les Discophiles Françaises" which specialized at first in early music. Hewitt himself directed many of its early recordings, including this one, an album containing two disc premières of important chamber works by François Couperin:

Couperin: L'Impériale (No. 3 of "Les Nations") and L'Apothéose de Lulli
Orchestre de Chambre Maurice Hewitt
Recorded December 1-3, 1941
Les Discophiles Françaises 11 through 16, six 78-rpm records
Link (FLAC files, 141.75 MB)
Link (MP3 files, 88.96 MB)

Couperin did not specify instrumentation for either of these works, merely two treble instruments and continuo; they are normally heard as trio sonatas. Hewitt uses his own arrangement for string orchestra with harpsichord, pardessus de viole, viola d'amore and viola da gamba. This is Couperin with a big, rich string sound, quite unlike what we are accustomed to hearing today.


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  2. Many thanks Bryan for that document. Maurice Hewitt, like Jane Evrard, Gaston Poulet or then Roland Douatte, were leading figures in the French musical landscape. This Couperin arranged by Hewitt is definitely an historical recording.

  3. Thank you so much - now it's you who are incomparable, dear Bryan! We're in dire need of something civilized and European... Best wishes, Nick

    1. This is as wonderful as I expected - thank you again so much! All the best, Nick

  4. Fascinating. Thanks so much Bryan.