COMPOSERS: Lully Campra Rameau Mondonville Leclair Royer Gluck
ALBUM TITLE: Tragédiennes
PERFORMER: Véronique Gens (soprano); Les Talens Lyriques/Christophe Rousset
CATALOGUE NO: 346 7622
Embracing a century of French opera, this collection spotlights the celebrated tragic heroines of Lully, Rameau and Gluck as well as less familiar but no less ‘fatales’ femmes created by Campra, Mondonville, Leclair and Royer. If that sounds like an excess of bleeding chunks and female histrionics, the programme creates a sense of integrity and musical development by framing the whole with Armide’s tormented monologue ‘Enfin il est en ma puissance’ – as interpreted a century apart by Lully and Gluck – and by creating sequences centred round each composer which include substantial orchestral movements.
Director Christoph Rousset
draws a limpid, transparent sound from his players, highlighting the
all-pervasive dance rhythms and shaping Lully and Rameau’s monumental chaconnes with supple grace. Gens, in turn, combines tragic gravitas with vulnerability, her pliant voice easily able to cope with the ornamental vocal lines whilst at the same time giving due weight to more intense moments. Throughout, though, dramatic expression is held within the confines of courtly restraint. Above all, the exceptional quality of the music makes this disc utterly mesmerising – a perfect choice for anyone looking for an introduction to the richness of
early French opera.
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