Subscribe to Pep Organ on Youtube for weekly uploads!
Today’s piece Louis-Claude Daquin’s “Le Coucou” (The Cuckoo). It has been popularised amongst young piano learners, since it appears in Volume 6 of the Suzuki Piano School, the music system I went through as a child.
In Daquin’s Le Coucou, we find one of many pieces inspired by birdsong that predates Messiaen, this one by two centuries. With its rapid tempo, this work has little time for French Baroque graces and formalities, but weaves a pretty little Rondeau out of cuckoo-cries and moto perpetuo semiquavers. Most cuckoo-inspired works are firmly in a major key, so Daquin’s use of the minor key immediately makes it stand out from the rest.
Daquin was born in France, but had Italian Jewish ancestry. A known virtuoso and child prodigy, he served as organist to King Louis XV at the Chapelle Royale, and later as organist titulaire at Notre-Dame Cathedral. Originally written for harpsichord, “Le Coucou” works very well on the organ, and still delights me to this day.