The Iranian-American harpsichordist unravels Rameau (and a good deal more).

Rameau wrote far less for the solo keyboard than, say, Couperin or JS Bach. Where do you place him in the pantheon of harpsichord composers?

Rameau may have written very little, but it’s all top-notch music. Alas, it’s not quite easy placing him within a specific pantheon. I mean, Couperin is someone whom I’d call a harpsichord composer – though, of course, he wrote in genres. He’s sort of like Chopin in that he produced his most original and heartfelt work for the keyboard. Sebastian Bach is a special case, because he seems to have mastered every genre he tried his hand at. William Byrd is probably the same, and I’d call him the father of modern keyboard music.

Rameau is a bit different. He wrote three books of harpsichord pieces which fit on just about two discs with some room left for a couple of pieces found in manuscript sources. All well and good, but then when his career as an opera composer took off Rameau seems to have more or less abandoned the harpsichord for...