WORKS: Sophie Daneman, Patricia Petibon (soprano), Katalin Károlyi (mezzo-soprano), Steve Dugardin (countertenor), Paul Agnew, François Piolino (tenor), Jean-François Gardeil, Olivier Lallouette (baritone)
PERFORMER: Sophie Daneman, Patricia Petibon (soprano), Katalin Károlyi (mezzo-soprano), Steve Dugardin (countertenor), Paul Agnew, François Piolino (tenor), Jean-François Gardeil, Olivier Lallouette (baritone)
CATALOGUE NO: 0630-14774-2
The two mini-operas on this CD show what an acute musical dramatist Charpentier was. Les plaisirs de Versailles, a minor comic masterpiece, was probably written to entertain Louis XIV. While Charpentier does not attempt the knockabout antics of his music for Molière’s Le malade imaginaire, there are some wickedly drawn caricatures. Music is portrayed as a seductive if fractious enchantress, and Conversation, a garrulous bore. The antics of various hangers-on in preventing them coming to blows is a constant delight. Equally fascinating is a ‘pastoralette’ to Italian words. Here, Charpentier shows himself a master of the Italian style with strings of ravishing melodies in thirds for the sopranos and a sense of harmonic direction that would have done Corelli credit.
The three ‘serious airs’ are a major bonus, wisely performed en suite and sung with heartfelt passion by Paul Agnew. As ever in this repertoire, Christie and his performers are full of flair. Sophie Daneman is convincingly husky as Music and copes splendidly with Katalin Károlyi’s spirited Conversation. Not all is perfection, however, and some may find the air of theatrical veracity a touch over the top, but when all is said and done this is drama, not just music for listening. Jan Smaczny