Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

Reviews and occasional notes on classical music

"Music, both vocall and instrumental, so good, so delectable, so rare, so admirable, so super excellent, that it did even ravish and stupifie all those strangers that never heard the like." - Thomas Coryat, after hearing 3 hours of music at the Scuola di San Rocco in Venice, 1608.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Et in Arcadia ego

Francois Couperin: Les Muses Naissantes

This marvellous new disc by artistic director Jérôme Lejeune and harpsichordist Brice Sailly with La Chambre Claire evokes a very specific time and place: Versailles during the reign of Louis XIV. But it is really about a timeless Arcadian fantasy of shepherds and shepherdesses, so perfectly expressed in the painting on the cover of the CD: Nicolas Poussin's La campagne romaine in the Oskar Reinhart collection at Winterthur. Solo pieces performed by Sailly are interspersed with similar works adapted for chamber ensemble, and orchestral pieces from such collections as Les Nations and Concerts royaux. This is beautifully and tastefully played, with attention to the state of the art of Historically Informed Practice, alternately sprightly and stately. The soprano Emmanuelle de Negri is a star here, providing just the right balance of innocence and knowing experience. The phrase Et in Arcadia ego which I use as my title for this review has two meanings. One is a kind of Memento Mori, which reminds us that Death stalks us even in the most bucolic surroundings. This isn't happening here; it's a much happier, more optimistic take with only the slight sadness of nostalgia to temper things. What a great way to start the New Year!

This disc will be released on February 23, 2018.

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