Rameau: Anacréon; Le berger fidèle

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COMPOSERS: Rameau
LABELS: Archiv
WORKS: Anacréon; Le berger fidèle
PERFORMER: Véronique Gens, Annick Massis, Thierry Félix, Rodrigo Del PozoLes Musiciens du Louvre & Chorus/ Marc Minkowski
CATALOGUE NO: 449 211-2
Rameau’s second one-act opera, based on the writings of the Greek poet Anacreon, is one of the minor marvels of his old age. Even in his mid-seventies Rameau was a dramatist of consummate skill and a startlingly innovative orchestrator. Instrumental colour (at its most sensational in a marvellous storm sequence), wit and dramatic flexibility keep this tale of love and pleasure bounding along without a single longueur.

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Minkowski and his orchestra accompany with poise and vigour; all the soloists have a strong feeling for the pace of the action and Annick Massis’s Cupid is a delight. Véronique Gens’s impassioned singing of the much earlier cantata Le berger fidèle completes a very attractive issue which is marred only slightly by Thierry Félix’s occasional rawness of tone as the ageing Anacréon.

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Two suites of orchestral music taken from Rameau’s one-act opera La naissance d’Osiris and his final masterpiece, Les boréades, show the Hungarian Capella Savaria to be an old-instrument band of accomplishment. If their tempi err too frequently on the cautious side and the wind playing is a touch wayward at times, the players clearly relish bringing Rameau’s endless orchestral inventiveness to life. Jan Smaczny