Rameau

Our rating 
3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Rameau
LABELS: Sony
WORKS: Selections from Les fêtes d’Hébé, Zoroastre, Les Boréades, Les Indes galantes, Platée, Six Concerts, Naïs, Hippolyte et Aricie, Dardanus and Castor et Pollux
PERFORMER: Nadine Koutcher (soprano), Alexei Svetov (bass); MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis
CATALOGUE NO: 88875014502

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In his introduction to MusicAeterna’s collection of largely familiar overtures, airs and dances from nine of Rameau’s operas, Teodor Currentzis writes: ‘You can talk to this music, you can dance to this music, you can fall in love and be kissed to this music. You can close your eyes and scream at the top of your lungs to this music.’ If so, it’s a disc best listened to at home.

Currentzis describes the act of listening to Rameau as a conversation in which ‘you are naked and it is painful’. In the dewy pathos of ‘Tristes apprêts’ (Télaïre’s lament from Castor et Pollux), as the strings fade into a pale halo around Nadine Koutcher’s fragile voice and the pulse slows to nothingness, you can almost see what he means. Elsewhere the muscularity of MusicAeterna’s articulation is perplexing. A pumped-up transcription of the keyboard miniature La Poule segues into cosmic clouds of microtones and a garish account of La Folie’s Aux langueurs d’Apollon (Platée). There are some arresting orchestral timbres and some limpid phrasing from bassoonists Alexander Golde and Ekhard Lenzing. But where Alexis Kossenko and Les Ambassadeurs crafted an idiomatic divertissement from their Rameau anthology, Le grand théâtre de l’amour (Erato, reviewed May 2014), Currentzis presents a set of flash cards.

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Anna Picard