4F de Télérama -
4 étoiles Classica
The theatres of London were vital centres for Restoration music after the return of the Stuart monarchy, following the fall of Cromwell's puritan dictatorship. Reinvigorated by the arrival of women actors and sumptuous decoration, they attracted a broad audience, which had been starved of entertainment after the years of religious rigour and the virtual ban on public performances. The most sought-after composer of the period was Locke, whose experience in this field went back into the Cromwell years. While Puritans did close theatres, some pieces had been able to overcome the ban, like the masque Cupid and Death set to music by Gibbons, which was played for the Portuguese ambassador in 1657 - then again in 1659, with additional music by Locke. When the theatres re-opened in 1660, there was a demand for music for every play, but more as an ornament than as an integral part of the plot. Each one required a series of airs and instrumental pieces to be played at the start and between each act. Locke wrote more than twenty airs of this type, although they can't be pinpointed to any specific plays. Most of his stage music, like Curtain Tune and Lilk, survive in various manuscripts from the period, and comprises stage music for plays performed in the final decade of the 17th Century. These are the inter-act pieces, airs or "curtain-raisers" which Bertrand Cuiller's Caravansérail ensemble plays here - Cuiller, remember, learned the harpsichord with Pierre Hantaï and Christophe Rousset. His last solo album, Rameau's complete works for harpsichord, was declared Classica's Shock of the Year 2015. The airs here are sung by Scottish soprano Rachel Redmond, a great performer of baroque music.