Three Studies from Couperin


chamber orchestra
Chamber/Small Orchestra
2(I=afl.II=bfl).0.1.1 – – perc(1): bass mar/2 small metal bars or anvils (enclûmes)/BD/3 timp/5 rototoms – 2 string orchestras (ideally each)

Commissioned by Basel Chamber Orchestra, kindly supported by the Ernst-Siemens-Musikstiftung and the Paul Sacher-Foundation

First Performance
21.4.2006: Martinskirche, Basel, Switzerland: Basel Chamber Orchestra/Thomas Adès

Score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

Thomas Adès’s Three Studies from Couperin are not his first re-imaginings of Couperin’s keyboard music.  He wrote a version of Les barricades mystèrieuses in 1994, but the Three Studies are the latest expression of his love for the French 18th-century master, and were written last year for the Basel Chamber Orchestra.  Each piece – Les Amusemens, Les Tours de Passe-Passe and L'âme en peine – is taken from a different collection of Couperin pieces, has the same number of bars as the original, and contains the same harmonies and rhythms.  So why, then, are these pieces ‘studies’ and not simply ‘arrangements’?  Adès may take nothing away from Couperin’s original pieces, but he adds to them.  Using an orchestra – really two, since the heart of the ensemble is a double string orchestra – Adès makes each piece an investigation of a different musical idea:  the textural amusement of the first, the way the melody melts from the bass flute solo to bassoon, to the strings and the brass, or the amplification of Couperin’s pain-wracked soul in the third piece into a multi-faceted musical space.  The second, Couperin’s ‘magic tricks’ is the most spectacular of all, as Adès’s own compositional sleight of hand creates a rhythmic tempest in the music’s final moments.

The results never sound like anyone else but Adès, even if his Studies release ideas dormant in Couperin’s originals.

© Tom Service

Licensing Information

Site Search

Newsletter sign-up

Submit your email address here to receive the latest news and special offers from Faber Music

Score Availability

It is possible in certain circumstances to purchase some scores direct from the Hire Library, even if advertised as available only for hire.

Please Contact the Hire Library:
Tel: +44 (0)1279 828907 / 8

Take a look

Benjamin Britten

The founding composer of Faber Music, Benjamin Britten is a central figure in this history of British music....

read more