music for Easter Monday – Jacques Champion de Chambonnières: Paschalia

by ada

For Easter Monday I chose a short (not even 2 minutes long) dance movement by one of the best French harpsichord players of the 17th century, Jacques Champion de Chambonnières. He served at the court of both Louis XIII and his son, Louis XIV, and among his pupils were Louis, Charles and François Couperin and Jean-Henri d’Anglebert. Although he was a very skilled musician who was held in high regard by his contemporaries, he also had his shortcomings that costed him his career: he couldn’t play the figured bass well enough to accompany the operas of Lully. And, as you might remember from yesterday’s post, Lully was a very influential man in the court of the Sun King (actually, he ruled the whole  17th century French music life. And he ruled it with a firm hand). So Chambonnières lost the game and had to go. He died a poor man, leaving exactly 142 small dance movements behind as a musical legacy. He published two collections of them during his lifetime, but some of them, as this short Paschalia, exist still only in manuscript.

What I love about this short piece of music is that it is like a dream within a dream: it has a hidden passacaille towards its end that, despite of being only 9 bars long (whole fifteen seconds in this recording), is a complete, perfect little piece in itself.

Because that’s how easy I am to please. You can buy my heart with fifteen seconds of ostinato.

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