Louis Couperin On The Piano
This is a deeply absorbing album, not to mention an unusual one. If you hear this music by the elder Louis Couperin at all it's bound to be on a harpsichord, but here we have it on a modern piano where it decidedly doesn't belong... or does it? Pianist Pavel Kolesnikov treats these "Dances from the Bauyn Manuscript" as pure music, and the result is hard to pull your ears away from once you sink into it. It doesn't survive background listening, however — you have to show up for this one. For some reason I have taken to playing this in the car when I'm driving alone, finding time suspended. This music from the 1600's often sounds decidedly modern, and more than once during its extended contemplations it wanders into extreme harmonic territory. And then there are all the many ornaments, which in less expert hands might grate but here always feel right. If you choose one album this year to stretch your ears, let it be this one.