Gossec: Le Triomphe de la République

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COMPOSERS: Gossec
LABELS: Chandos
ALBUM TITLE: Gossec
WORKS: Le Triomphe de la République
PERFORMER: Salomé Haller, Antonella Balducci, Guillemette Laurens, Makoto Sakurada, Claudio Danuser, Philippe Huttenlocher, Arnaud Marzorati; Swiss Radio Chorus, Lugano; Coro Calicantus; I Barocchisti/Diego Fasolis
CATALOGUE NO: CHAN 0727
Taken under the wing of Rameau and later a supporter of Gluck, Gossec excelled in the lighter forms of opera. After 1789 he metamorphosed effortlessly into the composer of choice in post-Revolutionary Paris. His gift for simplicity in harmony and melody, and the full and impressive use of wind instruments was ideally suited to providing improving entertainment for the zealots of the new order. Le Triomphe de la République, first staged in 1793, was written as an enthusiastic response to the victory of revolutionary forces against the Duke of Brunswick at the Battle of Valmy. This is the revolution on stage: the leaders of the people and the forces of virtue unite in music of infectious simplicity. The Gluckian manner adopted in the overture is soon abandoned for brasher colouring and march rhythms that show how this style in French music lay in the background to Beethoven’s martial manner.

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Diego Fasolis and his performers deliver this extraordinary score with no hint of embarrassment at its pervasive simplicity in a brightly-hued recording. Choral vocal lines are mostly firm, Gossec’s richly upholstered orchestral lines are handsomely shaped and the soloists sing with bright-eyed conviction. Very much a period piece, but one worth dipping into. Jan Smaczny