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Classical - Released October 21, 2013 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio
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Full Operas - Released January 25, 2011 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Diapason découverte - Choc de Classica - Hi-Res Audio
The musical world owes a debt of gratitude to French conductor Christophe Rousset not only for the vital, exquisite performances he delivers with the ensembles Les Talens Lyriques and Choeur de Chambre de Namur, but for his work in bringing to light neglected masterpieces of Baroque opera. Lully's Bellérophon, premiered in 1679, was a huge success in its time, with an initial run of nine months. Part of its popularity was doubtless due to the parallels that could be drawn between its plot and certain recent exploits of Louis XV, but even the earliest critics recognized the score's uniqueness and exceptional quality within Lully's oeuvre, so it's perhaps surprising that it has never been recorded before. The distinctiveness of the music was likely a result at least in part of the fact that Lully's preferred librettist Philippe Quinault was out of favor at the court of Louis XV at the time, so the composer turned to Thomas Corneille for the libretto, and Corneille's literary and dramatic styles were so different from Quinault's that Lully was nudged out of his comfort zone and had to develop new solutions to questions of structure and the marrying of music to text. It is the first opera for which Lully composed fully accompanied recitatives, and that alone gives it a textural richness that surpasses his earlier works. The composer also allows soloists to sing together, something that was still a rarity in Baroque opera. There are several duets and larger ensembles; the love duet, "Que tout parle à l'envie de notre amour extreme!," is a ravishing expression of passion and happiness, as rhapsodic as anything in 19th century Italian opera. The level of musical inventiveness throughout is exceptional even for Lully; the expressiveness of the recitatives, the charm of the instrumental interludes, the originality of the choruses, and the limpid loveliness of the airs make this an opera that demands attention. Rousset and his forces give an outstanding performance that's exuberantly spirited, musically polished, rhythmically springy, and charged with dramatic urgency. The soloists are consistently of the highest order. Cyril Auvity brings a large, virile, passionate tenor to the title role and Céline Scheen is warmly lyrical as his lover Philonoë. Ingrid Perruche is fiercely powerful as the villain, Stéenobée, and Jean Teitgen is a secure, authoritative Apollo. Soloists, chorus, and orchestra are fluent in the subtle inflections of French middle Baroque ornamentation. The sound of the live recording is very fine, with a clean, immediate, realistic ambience. This is a release that fans of Baroque opera will not want to miss. Highly recommended. © TiVo
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Classical - Released October 16, 2012 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released November 5, 2013 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Opera - Released September 22, 2014 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Diamant d'Opéra - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released November 4, 2010 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released October 16, 2012 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - Exceptional Sound Recording - Hi-Res Audio
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Classical - Released June 7, 2019 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
While Mozart was largely overlooked in the French capital, Antonio Salieri took on the reigns of the Académie Royale de Musique (Paris Opera), a fruitful collaboration that was completely broken up by the French Revolution. After the success of his work Les Danaïdes, composed for Paris in 1784, Salieri worked tirelessly with Beaumarchais, spurred on by the success and scandal of his Figaro, on a new project which would become Tarare. Beaumarchais moved himself shamelessly toward stardom, skillfully self-promoting and attending rehearsals so as to assure that the orchestra played pianissimo to emphasize the primacy of his verse during performances. Beaumarchais found that the music was too overwhelming to “embellish the lyrics”.Created one year after Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (which was relatively well-received in Vienna before triumphing in Prague), Tarare was an immense success in Paris maintaining the status of the composer’s repertoire despite the political turmoil of the time before disappearing from view around 1826, thereon ceasing to be played. Beaumarchais’ words were immediately adapted into Italian by Lorenzo Da Ponte to be performed and met with equal success in Vienna. Tarare is half lyrical tragedy, half comic opera with a hint of orientalism.After resuscitating Les Danaïdes and Les Horaces, Christophe Rousset finished off his series of recordings dedicated to Salieri’s French operas for the Parisian public. Tarare is very much of its time, that of the Lumières, and used the power of art to challenge despotism in all its forms. Thanks to Christophe Rousset’s excellent delivery and lively direction, this recording enables one to judge the merits of the composition and the chasm that separates an honest and talented musician from a solitary and impassioned one like Mozart. © François Hudry/Qobuz
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Chamber Music - Released August 31, 2018 | harmonia mundi

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
With these recordings which mark the launch of the Stradivari collection, discover the unique instruments lovingly preserved at the Philharmonie de Paris's Museum of Music: the finest examples of the art of instrument-making which, like the iconic harpsichord crafted in 1652 by Ioannes Couchet, are given a new life thanks to the skill and commitment of its keen conservators. When this 'national treasure' is entrusted into the hands of an expert like Christophe Rousset, the magic is evident. As the sumptuous sonority of Louis Couperin's music is revealed, poetry meets fantasy.
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Full Operas - Released September 3, 2015 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
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
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Classical - Released September 1, 2017 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Record of the Month - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Jazz
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
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Full Operas - Released August 31, 2018 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik - Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik
Ever since Peter Shaffer's play Amadeus and the subsequent film by Milos Forman, the operas of Mozart's rival Antonio Salieri have enjoyed a revival: historians determined that not only did Salieri not poison Mozart, he admired him, and Mozart at least respected the older Italian. Indeed, Les Horaces (1786) represents several accomplishments that were not on Mozart's résumé: it is a full-scale French opera, and its recitatives are orchestrally accompanied and contribute elegantly to the action. Berlioz, always an astute critic, numbered himself among the admirers of Salieri's French operas of the 1780s; this one was not as successful as the others, but that could have been due to any number of factors. The plot deals with a woman, Camille, whose romantic life is caught between factions in a war in early Roman times, and Rousset's live reading here benefits from a strong soprano lead, Dutch singer and French Baroque specialist Judith van Wanroij. Other singers likewise step up, but the real credit goes to Rousset, who gets the strengths of Salieri's score: the grand intermèdes, and the exciting finale of Act 1, where the joining-together of action and music is in Mozart's league even if the tunes are not. Also praiseworthy is the engineering work of the curiously named Little Tribeca team, who obtain the best possible sound from none other than Versailles. Highly recommended to those who have dismissed Salieri: this is a sympathetic and enthusiastic performance of his music. © TiVo
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Opera - Released September 22, 2014 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Diamant d'Opéra - Choc de Classica
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Cantatas (secular) - Released September 9, 2016 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica - 5 Sterne Fono Forum Klassik
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Classical - Released August 23, 2019 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 5 de Diapason - 4F de Télérama
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Full Operas - Released December 1, 2017 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Gramophone Editor's Choice - Choc de Classica
Everyone thinks that they know Alceste by Lully, and yet this 1674 masterpiece has almost never been recorded in its entirety. Apart from the Malgoire version from 1975 with Bruce Brewer and Felicity Palmer, which is starting to become outdated, the real treat is a second versoin by the same Malgoire twenty years later with Jean-Philippe Lafont and Colette Alliot-Lugaz... And so we can only take our hats off to the new discographical opus from Christophe Rousset's Talens Lyriques, a lively and elegant reading which allows us to rediscover everything that was so innovative about this brilliant, effervescent Florentine, who would become a typical Versaillais, a courtesan and a wheeler-dealer. King Louis XIV - 36 years old, still with all his own teeth and a victorious war leader - could only feel flattered by the piece signed by Quinault: Alcide, who covets the beautiful Alceste (who has been promised to Admetus), is none other than Hercules himself - Louis XIV seeing himself in Hercules saving the beautiful Madame de Montespan from the clutches of her husband. To be sure, in this opera, Admetus/Hercules magnanimously hands Alceste, whom he has saved from hell, to her husband, while the poor Mr Montespan would end his career and his life exiled in Gascony... Honour intact. The Sun King loved the work, to the point that he commanded that rehearsals be held at Versailles. According to Madame de Sévigné, "The King declared that if he found himself in Paris when it was performed, he would go to see it every night." That being said, if Alceste suited the tastes of the court, it didn't do so well in Paris, where Lully's enemies, jealous of the extravagant privileges that he had won (the exclusive right to "have sung any whole piece in France, wither in French verse or in other languages, without the written permission of said Sir Lully, on pain of a ten thousand livre fine, and confiscation of theatres, equipment, decorations, costumes..."), heaped plot upon plot, while the gallant Mercury sang his little couplet: Dieu !  Le bel opéra ! Rien de plus pitoyable ! Cerbère y vient japper d'un aboi lamentable !  Oh ! Quelle musique de chien ! Oh ! Quelle musique du diable ! [Lord!/Fine opera!/There's nothing so pitiable!/Cerberus is yapping, his howls lamentable!/What doggish music!/What devilish music!]. Posterity would decide otherwise, and Rousset proved it triumphantly. © SM/Qobuz
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Full Operas - Released March 24, 2017 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Gramophone Editor's Choice
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Chamber Music - Released June 23, 2010 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Diapason d'or - Hi-Res Audio
The organ music of Louis Couperin, an uncle of François, clearly pointed toward the French High Baroque style and has received a good number of recordings, but his harpsichord music is less fortunate. This is largely because they're imperfectly understood, at both the macro and micro levels. This release by celebrated French keyboardist Christophe Rousset contains half a dozen works designated as suites, but those are entirely his own creation. They exist only in manuscript, grouped mostly by dance rhythm; there are some ground bass pieces and some preludes without bar lines in a separate group. These are the subject of interpretive speculation, as well, and when Couperin's music began to come to light there were some rather woolly versions. Rousset's playing might be described as sensible, and it makes a good place to start for those curious about the sources of the highly stylized French harpsichord music of the early 18th century. Rousset assembles the pieces logically into suites in the same key, beginning with one of the preludes, followed by several dances, and concluding mostly with a passacaille (passacaglia) or chaconne. His playing is stately and rather sober throughout, doing nothing radical with the preludes but letting them set the tone for the rest of the music. Rousset arranges the dances so as to highlight one of the most attractive features of Couperin's music: its occasional tendency toward harmonic shock. Best of all, he uses an unusually old instrument, a 1658 harpsichord that fits the music to a T with its plummy, rather quiet, yet muscular sound. The music here is not François Couperin in chrysalis, but has distinctive charms of its own, and Rousset has done as well as anyone in getting at them. Booklet notes are in French and English. © TiVo
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Full Operas - Released October 22, 2012 | Aparté

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions 4 étoiles Classica - Hi-Res Audio
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Full Operas - Released February 10, 2017 | Bru Zane

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions Choc de Classica - Choc Classica de l'année
The music of Etienne-Nicolas Méhul has been largely forgotten, but early music conductor Christophe Rousset and his ensemble Les Talens Lyriques seem intent on a revival with this sumptuously presented (hardbound and numbered, and yet for all that a strong seller) recording of the opera Uthal (1806). Although commissioned by the Opéra-Comique, it is no comedy, but rather a story from Scottish legend about the titular warrior usurper. As was noted in the 19th century by Berlioz, among others, the plot is murky at best, and, curiously for a tragic opera, the music is interrupted by spoken dialogue, even at the putative climax. The music, however, holds one's attention. There are lots of unusual sonorities, starting with the fact that the orchestra doesn't have any violins (it's supposed to represent the misty Scottish moors). The chorus has a big role, and many of its numbers are gorgeous (sample the "Hymne au sommeil"). The arias look forward to Weber, and back to Gluck. The booklet contains fascinating essays on the work, in French and English, including the one by Berlioz, and the whole thing qualifies as an undeniably interesting curiosity. © TiVo