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FRANÇOIS COUPERIN (1668-1733) is best known today for his solo harpsichord music and chamber music, and indeed composed few secular songs. But he had a knack for catchy melodies, and noted with some approval, in the Preface to his Third Book of Harpsichord Pieces (1722), that some of his harpsichord pieces had been given words and turned into songs (a process called “parody,” a word that had not yet acquired the sense of “spoof”) that were more popular than the keyboard originals. “I would never have imagined that my pieces would attain immortality, but since several famous poets have honored them with a parody, this distinction might very well, in times to come, endow them with a reputation due entirely to the charming parodies they had inspired.” When Couperin actually set out to write songs, they could be, like Les Pellerines, full of melodic hooks. His “Epitaph for a Lazy Man” tackles its subject with befitting wit and rather more contrapuntal complexity than you would expect.
— Howard Posner plays lute and Baroque guitar and practices appellate law in Los Angeles.