Pieces de Clavecin - 1753
We know little of Christophe Moyreau's biography. He was descended from a distinguished Orléans family which, from the Middle Ages onwards, included several musicians as well as others in academic, parliamentary or artistic careers (the painter Jean Moyreau may have been his brother). In or around 1732 Christophe became organist at the cathedral of Sainte-Croix in Orléans, a post he retained until his death in 1772 or 74. He was presumably also a music teacher, since he published a Petit Abrégé des principes de musique par demandes et réponses (now lost), a tutor book for beginners in question-and-answer mode.
This apart, Moyreau's output is limited to six books of solo keyboard music. These are undated, but the composer was granted a publication privilege on 30 January 1753, and contemporary press notices confirm that all six volumes appeared during that year. Appropriately they are dedicated to the Duke of Orléans, who doubtless contributed towards the production costs and may well have assisted the provincial composer to have his music engraved by Mlle Vendôme, one of the finest engravers of the day. Even so, the chances are that these publications had a limited circulation, given that only a single exemplar of each survives.
In the first five books Moyreau reveals an innovative approach in the design of the suite. Between them, these books contain six colossal suites, two in the first and thereafter one per book. Each suite comprises between 18 and 26 movements, opening with an overture and up to five of the traditional dance movements. These are followed by a larger selection of character pieces (i.e. those bearing descriptive if often enigmatic titles) of the sort that had dominated the French keyboard suite since the time of François Couperin. Then comes a second overture followed by a multi-movement sonata or concerto (or, in Book 5, both). By contrast, Book 6 consists solely of three-movement 'simphonies' in the Italian manner, a scheme unprecedented in the solo French repertory.