Sandrine Piau: "Le Triomphe de L'Amour"
Arias and orchestra music by Campra, M.-A. Charpentier, Favart, Grétry, Lully, Rameau, Rebel/Francoeur and Sacchini.
Les Paladins, Correas. Texts and translations. Naïve OP 30532
Here is another fascinating CD program from Sandrine Piau. The gifted French soprano has accumulated a discography that is impressive both for quality of execution and for breadth of artistic curiosity and stylistic command. With expert support from conductor Jérôme Correas and Les Paladins (the historically informed ensemble he founded in 2001, now two dozen strong), Piau supplies a fine tour of Paris-generated opera music from the 1680s to the 1780s, tracing its stylistic development. North American audiences have occasional opportunities to acquaint themselves with the music of Lully and Rameau; some know of André Grétry from occasional concert revivals (or more likely from Tchaikovsky's quotation in Queen of Spades). But for most, André Campra and Marc-Antoine Charpentier remain just names. Here, Piau — an expressive, informed musician if not primarily a "word painter" such as Véronique Gens — offers a dramatic scene for the Trojan princess Ilione from Campra's Idomenée (1712) and Jonathas's despairing, declamation-based plaint from Charpentier's 1688 David et Jonathas, plus much more.
Naïve's very well produced CD lasts an hour, including two overtures — to the tragedy Scanderberg (1735), by the team François Rebel and François Francoeur, and Grétry's 1769 Le Tableau Parlant — and a set of dances from Rameau's Les Fêtes de Ramire. None of this is mere filler (the Grétry overture is quite delightful), and Correas and his forces present it with verve and tonal sheen, but the inclusion of orchestral music now seems to be an unvarying feature of Baroque vocal releases. Even with these pieces included, Naïve could easily have included several more selections to fill out the survey.
Still, the program does acquaint the listener with at least two composers whose names barely penetrate into the modern consciousness. Charles-Simon Favart's delicately scored "Pauvre Nise," from 1755's La Bohémienne, gives Piau a chance to evoke pathos; the showpiece "Que l'éclat de la victoire se répande sur vos jours," from Renaud (1783), by the Florence-born, Naples-trained Antonio Sacchini — a major figure in opera seria in his day — allows her to demonstrate the rhythmic verve and rapid passagework central to her prominence in this repertoire.
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