Ombre de Mon Amant

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Charpentier,Lambert,Rameau
LABELS: Archiv
WORKS: Charpentier: Médée – arias; Concert pour quatre parties de violes; Lambert: Airs; Rameau: Hippolyte et Aricie – arias; Les fêtes d’Hébé ou les talens lyriques – arias
PERFORMER: Anne Sofie von Otter (mezzo-soprano); Les Arts Florissants/William Christie
CATALOGUE NO: 477 8610

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 For readers who have yet to be seduced by French Baroque music, Anne Sofie von Otter’s recital with Les Arts Florissants and William Christie may be the start of a grand passion.

This is a programme that shouldn’t work but does: a taster menu that incorporates flirtatious brunettes and chansonettes from the 17th century, bleeding chunks (there are no other kind) from Medée and Hippolyte et Aricie, a dizzying flurry of tambourins, gigues and chaconnes, and Michel Lambert’s iconic lament Ombre de mon amant.

In all but one unflattering vignette from Les fêtes d’Hébé, von Otter turns the faint autumnal mist that is slowly creeping into her voice to her advantage. Charpentier and Rameau’s tragic heroines require a depth of experience and complexity of expression beyond young singers, from the abject humiliation of Phaedra’s ‘Cruelle mère des amours’ to the fury of Medea’s ‘Quel prix de mon amour’.

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More surprising is how well rom-com trifles such as Lambert’s Ma bergère est tendre et fidèle and Charpentier’s Celle qui fait mon tourment work when sung from the knowing perspective of a lover who has been around the block a few times. Impeccably accompanied, this is a tour de force from opera’s Meryl Streep. Anna Picard