Clerambault: Le triomphe d’Iris

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COMPOSERS: Clerambault
WORKS: Le triomphe d’Iris
PERFORMER: Gaëlle Méchaly, Serge Goubioud, Claire Geoffroy-Dechaume; Le Concert Spirituel/Hervé Niquet
CATALOGUE NO: 8.554455
Clérambault was a slightly older contemporary of Rameau who is best known for his chamber cantatas, which are among the finest in the entire repertoire of the 18th-century ‘cantate française’, and for his organ music. Few readers, though, will previously have had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the present work, Le triomphe d’Iris. It’s a pastoral divertissement dating from 1706 and consisting of an overture in the French manner and three ‘entrées’. As almost invariably with pieces of this genre the slight plot concerns the amorous vicissitudes of shepherds and shepherdesses set against a backdrop of woods, glades, streams, rivulets and the like. Their martyrdom to love is elegiac rather than agonising, no situation being of sufficient poignancy to jeopardise a menuet, rigaudon, passepied or the odd ‘simphonie agréable’.


Clérambault’s music is unfailingly charming. Like his sylvan dancers he never puts a foot wrong, matching every textual image with airs and simphonies of quality. Hervé Niquet, his Concert Spirituel and a tonally alluring group of vocalists seem to revel in the piece from start to finish. The little drama is well-paced and the many dances played with sensibility and intuitive grace. A ‘Marche’, Sarabande, Menuet, Bourrée and ‘Canaries’ which occur in the First Entrée are an early indication of the music’s evenly sustained appeal, while the singing of sopranos Marie-Louise Duthoit and Gaëlle Méchaly is irresistible. Nicholas Anderson