Passion: Lully, Charpentier, Desmarets
Véronique Gens, Ensemble Les Surprises, Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas
Les Chantres du Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles
ALPHA 747. 57’12
This recording showcases soprano Véronique Gens in the form of a five Act “opera imaginaire”, based on the repertoire of two of the greatest divas of the 17th-century Paris Opera: Mlle Saint-Christoph (her first name is not known) and her successor Marie Le Rochois. They both dominated the Paris opera scene between 1675 and 1698. Concentrating principally on the music of Jean-Baptiste Lully, we also hear music from operas by Marc-Antoine Charpentier, Henry Desmarets, and Pascal Collasse, with extracts from Lully’s Amadis, Proserpine, Atys, Armide, Persée, Alceste, and Le Triomphe de l’Amour, together with Charpentier’s Médée, depicting heroines such as Alceste, Armide and Médée, and the deities Juno, Ceres and Aeolia.
Bach and Friends
Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas
Ambronay AMY048. 79’54
Music by Böhm, Buxtehude, J. C. F. Fischer, Georg Muffat, Pachelbel, and Scheidemann
Ambronay Editions continue their support for younger musicians with a first recording by the organist, harpsichordist and musical director Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas. I have previously reviewed him (here) as the director of the group Ensemble Les Surprises. This programme contrasts music for harpsichord and organ, genres quite often interchangeable in the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Many manuscripts of the period include pieces suitable for one or other instruments, or both. The absence of an independent pedal does not always imply performance on a stringed keyboard instrument. That said, the pieces on this recording are generally well suited to the chosen instrument, although the title of Bach and Friends is a little off-kilter. Few could be seriously considered as personal friends of Bach. But all influenced him in one way or another, even if, like Scheidemann, they died well before Bach was born. Continue reading
L‘Héritage de Rameau
Ensemble Les Surprises, Louis-Noël Bestion de Camboulas
Ambronay Editions AMY050. 54’54
Music by Rameau, Rebel and Francoeur
I heard Ensemble Les Surprises and Yves Rechsteiner perform music from this recording during the 2017 Ambronay Festival (review here), noting that is was the first time the group had played without using a full-sized French Classical church organ, relying instead on a small chamber organ. That is more than made up for by this recording, which uses the important 1783 François-Henri Clicquot organ in the historic priory church of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul, Souvigny (Allier).
The premise of this recording is the programme of the Concert Spirituel given on 8 December 1768 in Paris. It refers to a ‘Suite of symphonies by Rameau executed with full orchestra on the organ by Balbastre’. It seems that Balbastre (the leading organist in pre-Revolutionary Paris) had reconstructed an organ concerto from existing works by Rameau, having already played many solo organ transcriptions from Rameau’s opera for the Concerts Spirituel. Despite being a keen organist, Jean-Philippe Rameau left no organ music. Yves Rechsteiner has already published and recorded his own arrangements of some of Rameau’s operatic and instrumental works for organ solo. For this recording, he has reconstructed three organ concertos from Rameau’s works as they might have been performed by Balbastre (a pupil of Rameau) in the 1768 Concert Spiritual. Continue reading