COMPOSERS: Campra,Rameau
ALBUM TITLE: Rameau,Campra
WORKS: Rameau:Les amants trahis; Aquilon et Orithie; Thétis; Air à boire
Campra:Les femmes


PERFORMER: Philippa Hyde (soprano), Peter Harvey (baritone); London Baroque

Late 17th-century French resistance to most things Italianate, a tendency much encouraged by Louis XIV, began to wane later in his reign when a veritable flood of Italian music reached Paris. The chief musical storm-troopers of this cultural invasion were sonatas and cantatas. Admiration led to imitation, and with his pronounced Italian musical affinities, Rameau began to cultivate the novelty producing works many of which are, quite frankly, the equal of Handel’s Italian cantatas. Perceptibly more serious than cantatas by his French contemporaries, those present here give clear evidence of a dramatic talent well-honed in advance of his later operatic career.

This sensitively recorded offering from London Baroque is excellent: accompaniments are delivered with unselfconscious stylishness but without any sense of the routine. The production, however, is carried mainly by the singing of Peter Harvey. His beautifully rounded baritone has absolutely the right level of dark lyricism for the more sombre moments – the air in the latter part of Les amants trahis is particularly memorable – but also responds excellently to the lighter charms of the Campra cantata, Les femmes. Though attractive, Philippa Hyde’s brief contributions are not on this level; nevertheless, this is a superb presentation of this treasurable repertoire.


Jan Smaczny