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.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Marvel before Marvel

Jean-Philippe Rameau: Naïs

The operas of the French baroque are much more accessible to the non-specialist than one might think. It's not only about the music, as gorgeous as it is. With gods, demigods and super-heroes, and an emphasis on special effects and stage machinery, we're more than half-way to today's DC and Marvel-based blockbuster movies. Jean-Philippe Rameau's Naïs is especially appealing, with a story based on Greek myth overlaid with very un-subtle political commentary, or rather, shameless flattery of the King. To further extend its appeal, there are nymphs and shepherds dancing Gavottes, Sarabandes, Contredanses and Tambourins in what I'm sure were spectacular ballets.

Gyorgy Vashegyi's Purcell Choir and Orfeo Orchestra, so good in Mondonville's Grands Motets and Isbé, also from Glossa, provide the sumptuous music that keeps the action flowing and the ballet dancers cavorting. The singing is absolute first class, beginning with superb choral singing, and moving throughout the cast. Chantal Santon-Jeffery is superb in the title role.

Though recorded in Budapest, this is a joint project with the Centre de Musique Baroque in Versailles. Everything is carefully researched to ensure the authenticity of French musical heritage, which in that country is taken extremely seriously. More importantly, this is obviously the result of musicians engaged in and enjoying their music-making.

This album will be released on April 20, 2018.

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