Bien que l’amour… Airs sérieux et à boire

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Various composers
LABELS: Harmonia Mundi
ALBUM TITLE: Bien que l’amour… Airs sérieux et à boire
WORKS: M-A Charpentier:  Le mariage forcé: Intermèdes nouveaux, etc; Couperin; Épitaphe d’un paresseux; Les Pèlerines; J Lambert: D’un feu secret je me sens consumer; Le repos, l’ombre, le silence, etc; M Lambert: Iris; Bien que l’amour; Chantez petits oiseaux dans la saison nouvelle; Pour vos beaux yeux, Iris, etc; plus works by de la Barre  & d’Ambruys
PERFORMER: Emmanuelle de Negri (soprano), Anna Reinhold (mezzo), Cyril Auvity (tenor), Marc Mauillon (baritone), Lisandro Abadie (bass); Les Arts Florissants/William Christie
CATALOGUE NO: HAF 8905276

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This excellent recording from Les Arts Florissants celebrates the art of the Baroque ‘air’ through the works of five different composers from the reign of Louis XIV of France in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. The melancholic and amorous airs sérieux are mainly represented in works by Louis XIV’s master of music Michel Lambert, who wrote nearly 300 in his long and successful career, interspersed with contributions from Charpentier, de la Barre, D’Ambruys and Couperin, whose drinking songs (airs à boire) also provide a more irreverent view of the genre. 

The recording features a crack team of soloists, who make an impeccable ensemble in both the sensual airs sérieux and the vibrant, cheeky airs à boire. Equally excellent instrumentalists – single strings and director William Christie on harpsichord – join in the fun in Charpentier’s Intermèdes nouveaux by adding their own boozy effects. 

The recording shines in pieces with smaller forces, such as D’Ambruys’s Le doux silence de nos bois where tenor Cyril Auvity is accompanied with laid-back theorbo and almost improvisatory viola de gamba. Soprano Emmanuelle de Negri deserves a special mention for her incredibly sensitive singing, her duet with bass Lisandro Abadie in John Lambert’s Le repos, l’ombre, le silence a highlight of the disc.

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Elinor Cooper