COMPOSERS: Campra and Anon,Carissimi,Demachy,Guédron,LÊCouperin,Lully,M-A Charpentier,Michi,Pasqualini,Rossi
ALBUM TITLE: Musique pour mazarin!
WORKS: Assorted Songs
PERFORMER: Elizabeth Dobbin (soprano);
Le Jardin Secret
CATALOGUE NO: COR 16060
Louis XIV, it seems, was the only person in France to mourn the passing of his chief minister, Cardinal Mazarin. This brilliant Italian statesman not only secured the ascendancy of France in the later 17th century, but he also provoked rebellion and outrage among the French. His desire to instil the virtues of Italian music among the French largely met with a hostile response. At first glance, the title of this anthology seems to be stretching a point since Campra, who concludes it, was only one year old when Mazarin died. Nevertheless, the mix of Italian, French and Italian influenced French music, notably by Charpentier, certainly reflects the cultural ferment promoted by Mazarin and certainly includes some very attractive music. There is a great deal of expertise in the instrumental playing: lute, gamba and harpsichord solos and accompaniments are splendidly stylish if slightly distantly recorded. The vocal contribution is more mixed. Elizabeth Dobbin’s soprano seems best suited to the French repertoire which is both poised and expressive, notably in the excerpt from Lully’s Armide. In the Italian repertoire some may find her singing overly mannered and the pitch not always completely dependable. Even so there is much to enjoy here. Jan Smaczny