A Baroque Odyssey: Les Arts Florissants @ 40

A Baroque Odyssey
40 Years of Les Arts Florissants
William Christie, Paul Agnew
The Barbican, 8 December 2019

Eavesdropping on a birthday party can be fun, even if you sometimes wish it wouldn’t go on for quite so long. This one did, apparently finishing around 10.30, although I had to leave before 10 to catch my last train home. In celebration of their proud 40-year history, Les Arts Florissants are touring a mixed programme of Handel, Purcell and the French composers Charpentier, d’Ambruis, Lully and Rameau. Under their founding Director William Christie and  Associate Musical Director Paul Agnew, five soloists, a large orchestra and 23-strong choir demonstrated just why they have been so important over the past 40 years. Like any good party, it is perhaps best to leave what happened in the room, in the room, so I will not attempt a critical review – which is probably just as well because I am not sure that I could think of anything critical to say. Continue reading

`Li Due Orfei: Caccini & Peri

Li Due Orfei: Caccini & Peri
Marc Mauillon & Angélique Mauillon
Arcana A393. 57’12

Recordings Mauillon Cover 916Giulio Caccini and Jacopo Peri were musical assistants to Emilio de’ Cavalieri for the famed celebrations for the Florentine marriage of Ferdinand de’ Medici and Christine de Lorraine. In the resulting La Pellegrino, they helped to develop a new style of singing, based on earlier concepts of singing in what was thought to be the style of Orpheus. This emphasised the declamatory solo voice in what became known as the stile rappresentativo, accompanied by a simple basso continuo, based on Orfeo’s lyre, here realised by Angélique Mauillon on a triple harp by Somerset luthier Simon Capp, after early 17th century Italian models. This recording explores the later work of the two composers, with an emphasis on the music of Caccini, with 12 examples compared to the five from Peri, together with three instrumental harp interludes by Luzzaschi and Piccinini. Continue reading