Les Caractères d’Ulusse

Les Caractères d’Ulusse
Rebel & Boismortier: Suites pour deux clavecins

Clément Geoffroy, Loris Barrucand, harpsichords
Château de Versailles Spectacles CVS021. 74’03

Rebel, J-F: Suite d’Ulysse; Les Caractères de la Danse; Les Élémens;
Les Plaisirs Champêtres 
Boismortier: Premier ballet de Village; Suite de Daphnis et Chloé

Using two of the historic instruments from the collection at the Château de Versailles, one by Ruckers the other by Blanchet , harpsichordists Loris Barrucand and Clément Geoffroy present arrangements of music by Jean-Féry Rebel, (1661-1747) and Joseph Bodin de Boismortier (1691-1755). The impetus for this venture came from a commission in 2016, the 350th anniversary of Rebel’s birth, for a piece for two harpsichords and dancers combined with Rebel’s own comment that he wanted his 1715 orchestral piece Les Caractères de la Danse (an uninterrupted succession of fourteen dances completed in around eight minutes) to be played “like a piece on the harpsichord”. Continue reading

Dancing with the Sun King

Dancing with the Sun King
Michel Pignolet de Monteclair & Jean-Fery Rebel
Ensemble Odyssee
Pan Classics PC10410. 62’20

Dancing with the Sun King | Pan Classics PC10410

Michel Pignolet de Monteclair: Serenade ou Concert divisee en 3 suites
Jean-Fery Rebel: Boutade, Caprice, Les Caracteres de la Danse

For a demonstration of just how colourful French Baroque orchestral music can be, this recording by Ensemble Odyssee of music from the time of Louis XIV can’t be beaten. The bulk of the recording is devoted to the 1697 Serenade ou Concert divisee en 3 suites by Michel Pignolet de Monteclair, one of the lesser-known composers of the period. Separating the three Suites are individual pieces by Monteclair’s contemporary, Jean-Fery Rebel (Boutade Caprice) and the concluding 1715 Les Caracteres De La Danse. Continue reading

LPO: Rebel, Milhaud, Adams

Belief and beyond Belief: Rebel, Milhaud, Adams
London Philharmonic Orchestra, 
Vladimir Jurowski
Royal Festival Hall, 28 January 2017

Jean-Féry Rebel: Simphonie nouvelle – Les élémens 
Darius Milhaud: La Création du monde
John Adams: Harmonielehre

During 2017, the Southbank Centre and the London Philharmonic Orchestra are presenting the ‘Belief and Beyond Belief’ festival, “exploring what it means to be human” through “the music, art, culture, science, philosophy, ritual and traditions that have risen out of religion in its many guises”.  The link between those aspirations and the music heard in this concert was perhaps a little vague, but nonetheless this was an adventurous bit of programming from the LPO and Vladimir Jurowski, drawing together three completely different musical worlds (French baroque, 1920s jazz-era Paris and 1980s America) involving, in effect, three different orchestras. If there was a theme, it was perhaps the way that three very different composers tried to draw inspiration from apparent chaos. Rebel starts by depicting the chaos of the beginning of the world, as understood by 18th century cosmology; Milhaud combined creation myths with the seemingly chaotic world of 1920s Paris jazz; while Adams moved himself out of a creative block created by the chaotic post-Schoenberg clash between musical minimalism and complexity. Continue reading

Les Voyages de l’Amour

Les Voyages de l’Amour
Music by Boismortier, Rebel, Corrette
Ensemble Meridiana
Chaconne CHAN 0812. 57’39

Boismortier: Simphonie pour l’arrivée des Génies Elémentaires (Les Voyages de l’Amour ); Premier ballet de Village, Op. 52; Sonata, Op. 14/3; Concerto a 5, Op. 37; Sonata a trois parties, Op. è37/4.
Corrette: Concerto comique VI: ‘Le Plaisir des Dames’.
Rebel: Les Caractères de la Danse; Sonate Sixiéme.

Boismortier’s 1736 opéra-ballet, Les Voyages de l’Amour tells of the journey of Love in his quest to find a pure heart that will love him sincerely and without ulterior motive, having tired of making others happy without     finding that happiness himself. Having searched through towns, villages and the royal court, he eventually finds his true love in the person of the shepherdess Daphné. In this glittering programme, Ensemble Meridiana take a similar journey through Baroque France in a musical search for that elusive true love, travelling through similar setting to those of Boismortier’s Amour, concluding with Michel Corrette’s ‘Amusing and Highly Entertaining’ wedding feast.

Boismortier’s music makes up the bulk of the CD, starting with the multi-sectional Simphonie pour l’arrivée des Génies Elémentaires, Continue reading

Le Création du Monde – European Union Baroque Orchestra

The annual St John’s Smith Square Christmas Festival has adopted a number of performers who seem to return each year, one being the European Union Baroque Orchestra.  As readers may know, EUBO have had a troubled year as their usual EU funding stream ground to a halt – hopefully temporarily.  Despite having had to cancel the 2014 cohort of auditioned players, they have continued to keep up some elements of their touring concert schedule, drawing on players from earlier incarnations of the training orchestra.

Their SJSS programme (11 Dec 2014) was Le Création du Monde, starting, perhaps appropriately given their current situation, with Rebel’s depiction of chaos at the opening of Les Elémens.  The second half Suite of pieces from three Rameau operas had a similar start with the Ouverture from Zaïs (a more hesitant depiction of chaos), closing with the tempest from Platée, with the filling between focussed on various wind-inspired pieces from Les Boréades. The other works were Muffat’s Propitia Sydera Concerto Grosso (with its fine Ciacono) and Rebel’s Les Caractères de la Danse.   As ever, the young players demonstrated characteristic grace and eloquence along with musical excellence, with notable contributions from flautists Emma Halnan and Flavia Hirte, violinists Yotam Gaton and Jamiang Santi and cellist Guillermo Turna Serrano.

Andrew Benson-Wilson
This review first appeared in Early Music Review, Feb 2015.

Royal Baroque in Battersea  

The enterprising new series of monthly early Sunday evening musical events at St Michael’s, Cobham Close, Battersea continued with Royal Baroque, a group of young multinational musicians who met in 2010 at the Guildhall School of Music (8 Feb).  Their programme focussed on the French style, as represented in suites by Rebel and Telemann.  The solo instruments were played by Christiane Eidsten Dahl, violin, and Rebecca Vučetić, recorders, with Kate Conway adding many solo moments to her continuo role on viola da gamba – and demonstrating impeccable tuning well above the frets.  Continuo support came from Kaisa Pulkkinen, who didn’t have much chance to show her wares on baroque harp, and Katarzyna Kowalik, harpsichord.  Christiane Eidsten Dahl’s sensitive and delicate violin playing blended well with the quieter sound of the recorder.  All the players were well versed in French performing style, particularly evident in the gentler lyrical movements.