It is pleasing to see a new edition of the works of a composer who, among his contemporaries, can be justifiably characterised as an unsung hero. Paris towards the end of the Grand Siècle was an exciting landscape in which publishing music for the harpsichord began to flourish. Encompassing a period that started with the engraving of Jean Henry D’Anglebert’s Pièces de Clavecin in 1689 and found its apogee in the polished publications of François Couperin some twenty-five years later, it was a time when the precocious 23-year-old Jean-Philippe Rameau and the slightly older and more tempestuous Louis Marchand obtained Privilèges du Roy, enabling their music to be published by a new generation of music engravers. And it was this world that Gaspard Le Roux entered with just a single volume, only for him to disappear just over a year after its publication.
As performers, we have many composers’ works available in facsimile. Most are quite readable, and some, such as D’Anglebert’s splendid 1689 publication, are true monuments to engraving. But a modern edition is always necessary, as it makes the music accessible to many and while we may enjoy the originals, one that is out of the box and without the need to read unfamiliar clefs or decipher crooked beams is a practical solution for many of today’s restless musicians.
In our world, baroque music needs to be performed with a sense of its cultural and historical context, since it is only then that it can properly justify itself. Modern editions have an important role in helping us to do this by widening our knowledge and understanding. They are all the more laudable when meticulous research provides a starting point for us to give the music the credit and acknowledgement it deserves.
Now it is up to performers to show their gratitude to the composer by allowing his music to sing and live again.
Prof. Emeritus, Hochschule für Musik Köln
Cologne, March 2017