Saturday 14 June 2014

Le Jardin de Moniseur Rameau

Le Jardin de Monsieur Rameau
Le Jardin de Monsieur Rameau: Les Arts Florissants,William Christie: Les Arts Florissants Editions
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Jun 14 2014
Star rating: 5.0

Sparkling performances from Le Jardin Des Voix academy for young singers

Le Jardin des Voix is Les Arts Florissants' biennial academy for young singers. Launched in 2002, the sixth edition of Le Jardin des Voix took place in 2013 and in addition to performing their programme Le Jardin de Monsieur Rameau the young performers recorded it and the disc has now been issued on Les Arts Florissants' own label. Le Jardin de Moniseur Rameau is performed by Daniela Skorka, Emilie Renard, Benedetta Mazzucato, Zachary Wilder, Victor Sicard and Cyril Costanzo accompanied by Les Arts Florissants with William Christie directing. The programme consists of music excerpts from operas and cantatas by Michel Pignolet de Monteclair, Antoine Dauvergne, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Nicolas Racot de Grandval, Christoph Willibald Gluck and Andre Camra, though essentially it is centred on the operas of Rameau.

The excerpts are grouped thematically, and flow naturally into each other. Many of the items are very short, and great skill has been used in combining different parts of the same work to make a satisfactory excerpt. When performed live the programme was given in a semi-staging but even on disc the magic of the performance comes over. The sections might roughly be termed the power of music, drinking, love in many forms and la gloire. Many of the composers in the first half of the programme are not well known and part of the delight of the disc is discovering new gems.

They open with a crisply stylish account of the overture to Jephte by Michel Pignolet de Monteclair (1687-1737) then the toe tapping Riex sans cesse is followed by the more graceful Dans ces beaux lieux in each case the solo line being shared. The excerpt finishes with an elegant graceful trio.

Daniela Skorka's slimline soprano is expressively elegant in Quelle voix suspend mes alarmes, Iole's solo from Hercule mourant by Antoine Dauvergne (1713-1797). Gracefully intertwining flutes complement Benedetta Mazzucato's plangent but stylish contralto in Aricie's air Auels doux concerts from Rameau's Hippolyte et Aricie. Mezzo-soprano Emilie Renard then performs the cantata Rien du tout by Nicolas Racot de Grandval (1676-1753). Renard impresses with her dramatic style and expressive recitative. The cantata is a bravura piece, a series of short airs in different styles as the character tries out various ways of singing before deciding to be silent!

We then move on to the joys and perils of drink with Dauvergne's La Venitienne in which bass Cyril Costanzo has what amounts to a dramatic scena in which he drinks, invokes bacchus and finally falls asleep; en route Costanzo performs with brilliant aplomb before concluding with an elegant air. We continue the drunken theme with Gluck's L'Ivrogne corrige. The sequence starts with a jolly terzetto, Maudit ivrogne which is a lovely romp complete with a tamourine. At the end the drunkard is thought dead so the expressive elegy from Gluck's opera frames a pair of characterful canons by Rameau. The combination working to lovely humorous effect. The final quartet from Gluck's opera is another jolly tambourine laden ensemble.

Next comes a substantial excerpt from the Deuxiem entree: La France from L'Europe galante by Andre Campra (1660 - 1744) in which Silvandre (Victor Sicard) in an expressive baritone vows to drop his lover Doris and woo Cephise. Emilie Renard is highly elegant as Cephise who snubs Silvandre even though Sicard is expressive and dramatic in his performance! Finally Benedetta Mazzucato's Doris laments her fate plangently, expressively and richly dramatically.

The next Rameau extract is from the Premiere entree: La Poesie from Les Fetes d'Hebe. Here the characters are more generic, the river, the stream etc., and the whole sequence has an elegand sadness about it until Daniela Skorka's Le Ruisseau tells everyone to be off in dramatically vivid terms.

The sequence from Rameau's Dardanus mixes items from acts four and five, starting with Zachary Wilder as a vivid and elegant Dardanus singing of la gloire. Victor Sicard's Antenor is wonderfully evocative and expressive and I found him singing with terrific style. Finally a lovely duet for Wilder and Benedetta Mazzucato as Iphise.

The disc closes with an old favourite, the quartet Tendre Amour from Rameau's Les Indes galantes.

The CD is handsomely packaged with a booklet which includes full texts and translations along with an article about the music and much else besides including plenty of photographs of the live performance. There is also a short story (in French and English) from Adrien Goetz, a fantasy based on Proust and other things!

This is a terrific disc. The six singers are all highly stylish and very varied in terms of their voices. Each has an individual style and though all conform to the stylistic requirements of performing French baroque music there is never a feeling of bland uniformity. Both Christie and the young performers were clearly having fun, and the whole disc sparkles and crackles.

Michel Pignolet de Monteclair (1667 - 1737) - Jephthe - prologue (excerpts)
Antoine Dauvergne (1713 - 1797) - Hercule mourant (excerpts)
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 - 1764) - Hippolyt et Aricie (excerpts)
Nicolas Racot de Grandval (1676 - 1753) - Cantate: Rien du tout
Antoine Dauvergne (1713 - 1797) -Le Venitienne (excerpts)
Christoph Willibald Gluck (1714 - 1787) - L'Ivrogne corrige (excerpts)
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 - 1764) - Ah! loin de rire (canon)
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 - 1764) - Reveille-vous, dormeur (canon)
Andre Campra (1660 - 1744) - L'Europe galante - Deuxieme entree: La France (excerpts)
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 - 1764) - Le Fetes d'Hebe - Premiere entree: La Poesie (excerpts)
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 - 1764) - Dardanus (excerpts)
Jean-Philippe Rameau (1683 - 1764) -Tendre Amour (Les Indes galantes)
Daniela Skorka (soprano)
Emilie Renard (mezzo-soprano)
Benedetta Mazzucato (contralto)
Zachary Wilder (tenor)
Victor Sicard (baritone)
Cyril Costanzo (bass)
Les Arts Florissants
William Christie (director)

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