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Opera Extracts - Released February 23, 2018 | harmonia mundi

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With his ensemble Pygmalion, Raphaël Pichon has written the listing for this album in the form of a "pastiche" of a Mass for the Dead, a Requiem both sacred and profane. While it is a long way from having all the defining traits, it does possess all the outlines: Introit, Kyrie, Gradual, Sequence, Offertory, In Paradisum... The idea came about after a recent discovery, in the Bibliothèque Nationale of an anonymous requiem mass from the 18th century, in which the writer constructed a "parody" based on musical extracts from Castor and Pollux and the Fêtes de Paphos by Jean-Philippe Rameau. Note that the term "parody" doesn't necessarily imply satire or mockery: it refers to the practice of taking up older music and setting new words to it. This fusion of sacred music (the mass) and profane music (lyrical tragedy), a common practice during the Enlightenment, was a procedure that Pichon wanted to take up. In French society at the time, when Catholicism was the norm, where the political system was monarchical rule by divine right, the representation of ancient pagan Hell on theatrical stages seemed to betray a fascination in the beliefs of the ancients. And so this programme melds together pagan fable with a Christian imaginary, where Hell takes on different faces. It is the place of unjust and eternal torment, a place of privation where a couple is separated, one half kept in Hades. But, in the lyrical tragedy, Hell is also a place of perdition: obscure forces unleashed in Sabbath rites, a Satanic vision which unearths the darkest depths of the human soul... Stéphane Degout is the author of this tragedy, bringing together such varied characters as Phaedra, Pluto, and the Parcae. The composers whose music is put to use are Rameau and Gluck, with a single borrowing from Rebel: it would have been a shame not to mention his singular Chaos (taken from Éléments), which starts with a dissonant chord containing the seven notes of the scale of D minor. © SM/Qobuz

Opera - Released October 28, 2013 | Warner Classics International

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Classical - Released August 1, 2011 | Alia Vox

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Full Operas - Released September 3, 2015 | Aparté

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In 1745, the King of France granted Jean-Philippe Rameau the title of ‘Composer to the Court’, coupled with a healthy pension. This new period produced pieces of a much lighter character, with Rameau working alongside the librettist Louis de Cahusac, and the resulting collaborations are now counted amongst the Burgundian musician’s greatest masterpieces. Zaïs was presented on the stage of the Royal Academy of Music in 1748. This heroic ballet offers French music some of its most beautiful movements, both vocally and instrumentally. The entire work is a meditation on its famous opening chaos, and succeeds, surprisingly, through its theatrical stamp and in the audacity of the writing. The plot is, perhaps, tenuous – a lover (Zaïs) is in the throes of affection for his beloved (Zélidie), determining to cherish her – which serves as the pretext for endless entertainment, dancing, and the work’s magical character. Today, it remains surprising that a work as sumptuous as Rameau’s Zaïs is neglected in favour of the Indes Galantes or Hippolyte et Aricie. It is paradoxical, then, that in 1970 Gustav would combine the small amount of French music he truly appreciated with a reassessment of the beauties of this work. Gustav created a fascinating recording with La Petite Bande Sigiswald Kuijken (STIL), which has now become a true rarity, despite its questionable vocalists. Happily for us, Christophe Rousset, who cherishes Rameaus’s older work, has dedicated himself to it, and offers us this gorgeously captured rendition, with French singers working under the direction of his sharp and witty leadership. The opening of the Les Talens Lyriques recital is far more vivid than anything that has been achieved in over twenty years for L’Oiseau-Lyre, in which the Ouverture immediately sets the tone. Rousset completely captures the brilliance of the score, and his imagination – which here seems insatiable – liberates his singers, who are boundlessly invested in this work; complicit in a musical resurrection. An enchantment of sorts? No. A whirlwind, rather. © Qobuz

Chamber Music - Released February 23, 2015 | Mirare

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Classical - Released September 1, 2017 | Aparté

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Christophe Rousset and the Talens Lyriques bring us to the stage of the Royal Academy of Music where Pygmalion, an act of ballet by Jean-Philippe Rameau inspired by an episode of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, was created in 1748. Love, showing empathy for Pygmalion’s despair of loving a statue, invigorates the sculpted woman who immediately falls in love with her creator. Very suggestive, the music of this tender and mischievous ballet deploys the grace of 18th century dances. Like Ovid’s Love, Christophe Rousset instils life in this score, one of Rameau’s greatest successes in his day, and offers us, thanks to his sense of drama and his impeccable leadership, a new and essential reading of this ballet. © Aparté

Classical - Released January 1, 2004 | Alpha

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Ballets - Released April 3, 2013 | Paraty Productions

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Full Operas - Released April 5, 2019 | Glossa

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With Les Indes galantes by Jean-Philippe Rameau, György Vashegyi – along with his Orfeo Orchestra and Purcell Choir – makes a further dazzling addition to their Glossa series of French dramatic masterpieces from the Baroque, and in the company of a luxurious line-up of vocal soloists. The version of this “ballet heroïque” – supplied with an anti-colonial, anti-clerical manifesto by librettist Louis Fuzelier – selected by Vashegyi is the 1761 revision, a mere decade or so before the irruption onto the Parisian musical scene of the likes of Gluck and Grétry. Rameau’s score had undergone frequent adjustments and improvements since its première a quarter of a century earlier, and the performing edition for this recording, prepared for the Rameau Opera Omnia by Sylvie Bouissou (who also provides a booklet essay here), offers a vision of this work which is more theatrical, fluid and concise than hitherto. Just in themselves, the names of Chantal Santon-Jeffery, Katherine Watson, Véronique Gens, Reinoud Van Mechelen, Jean-Sébastien Bou and Thomas Dolié (sharing out the dozen solo roles) augur well for a glorious exploration of the prologue and three entrées ahead. Recently, they have also, in conjunction with the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles, been working on questions of tempo and how to perform Rameau’s sequences as the composer intended. Vashegyi brings a consummate understanding of Rameau’s galante style to the proceedings, following two previous Ramellian Glossa outings (Naïs and Les Fêtes de Polymnie). © Glossa

Classical - Released September 24, 2013 | Alpha

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Opera - Released April 6, 2018 | Glossa

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Created in 1749 to commemorate the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle signed between George II and Louis XV of France to end the War of the Austrian Succession, Rameau’s pastorale héroïque Naïs consecrates the triumph of virtuosity on the stage of the Académie Royale de Musique, while in England, Handel wrote his famous Music for the Royal Fireworks for the same occasion. Weary of sombre tragedies and their dark and oppressive passions, audiences received lighter works more enthusiastically – ballets and pastorales – for which soprano Marie Fel and tenor Pierre Jélyotte were applauded for their prodigious vocal performances. With Naïs, Rameau produces some of his most impressive pages, among which the overture and descriptive prologue, tracing the epic fight between the Titans and the heavenly court for the rule of Olympus. Chivalrous exchanges, athlete evolutions, prophecies, pastoral celebrations, naval battles and underwater nuptials punctuate the work and support the blooming of tender feelings that unite Naïs and Neptune. This co-production between the Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles (CMBV − Centre of Baroque Music Versailles) and the Müpa Budapest Early Music Festival confirms the position of György Vashegyi in the field of baroque music, and French music in particular. Following the success of Rameau’s Les Fêtes de Polymnie (The Festivals of Polyhymnia) in 2015, and the revelation that was Mondonville’s Isbé, the Hungarian conductor is at it again with excellent singers and his two ensembles, the Budapest Orfeo Orchestra and the Purcell Chorus, which he founded in Budapest at the end of his studies at The Franz Liszt Academy of Music, completed by master classes from the likes of Sir John Eliot Gardiner and Helmut Rilling. This French-Hungarian production focusing on Rameau will be extended with the upcoming release of Les Indes Galantes (The Amorous Indies). © François Hudry/Qobuz

Chamber Music - Released August 28, 2012 | Mirare

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Masses, Passions, Requiems - Released September 8, 2014 | INTERARTS

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Classical - Released February 25, 2010 | Alpha

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Chamber Music - Released November 28, 2002 | Channel Classics Records

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Full Operas - Released April 27, 2015 | harmonia mundi

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Classical - Released March 1, 2001 | Alpha

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Classical - Released January 1, 1991 | Decca Music Group Ltd.

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Ballets - Released January 27, 2015 | Glossa

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Opera - Released October 28, 2013 | Warner Classics International

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The operas of Jean-Philippe Rameau, vast spectacles, may be lost to history in their original forms. Sure, some of them have been produced in the modern era, but no company could muster the combination of singers, instrumentalists, choreography, and costume and scene design that would have accompanied the originals. The closest might be this release by French soprano Sabine Devieilhe, which is a thrill from start to finish. The album simply has it all. Devieilhe's voice is a knockout, and a deceptive one at that: it comes in as a flutelike thing in the mid-range but then scores with an agile top that seems absolutely undaunted by acrobatic vocal writing. The work of the historical-instrument orchestra Les Ambassadeurs under Alexis Kossenko is technically superb and dramatically sharp; they convey the feeling of playing for real theatergoers. The music covers selections from some operas with hugely ambitious themes, and there are three world-premiere recordings. Sample the storm aria from Les Indes Galantes (The Gallant Indians), track 17, with its wind machine and its colorful vocal canvas, for a taste of an immensely satisfying recital by a new face on the scene who makes you wonder just how far she'll eventually go. © TiVo