Rameau had the somewhat dubious fortune (in his own time, at least) to be such a powerful creative personality in the field of orchestral music that the quality of his dances sometimes overwhelms the operatic context in which he places them. From our point of view today, this hardly seems a liability, especially when it permits the performance of marvelous orchestral suites such as this from his various theatrical productions. Les Indes galantes (1735) contains some wonderful dance music, scored with the composer's usual imaginative flair.
The Baroque music ensemble Les Talens Lyriques, under Christophe Rousset's baton, performs Rameau's Les Indes galantes at the Opéra National de Bordeaux in a sensual and politically engaged production directed by Laura Scozzi, on the occasion of the festivities organized to commemorate the 250th anniversary of Jean-Philippe Rameau's death.
For musicians of today, Rameau is often associated with the study of music theory.а His Traitщ de l'harmonie (1722) was incredibly influential Ч and controversial Ч in its new conception of the triad as an invertible entity.а While his critics often cited his theoretical background as making him unfit for composition, his considerable success as a composer of keyboard music and, later, opera called this accusation into question.
After a rather uninspired prologue as opening section according to Lully's five-part tradition, Rameau's ballet opera offers four different stories, each set in a different exotic locale. We get some idea of how Frenchmen conceived of the non-European world in the 1730s. The first story, "The Noble Turk," falls in line with Montesquieu's Persian Letters (1721) by suggesting that good character is more important than religious differences. This theme, alien to my own viewpoint and synonymous with the Enlightenment, led to an ideal of the Brotherhood of Man that dominated idealistic thinking for two centuries to come. The most remarkable of the four stories is the second, set in Peru at the time of the Spanish Conquest of the 1530s… By John D. Pilkey
The exciting and vigorous talents of Sébastien d Hérin and Les Nouveaux Caractères announce their debut on Glossa with a major and appropriately unexpected release of a glaring Rameau operatic omission on record: 'Les Surprises de l Amour' (Cupid s Surprises). This opéra-ballet, consisting here of three separate entrées, first performed in 1748 and submitted to later revisions, comes from the period of Jean-Philippe Rameau s rich maturity when he had finally become a court composer.
"John Eliot Gardiner has proved himself a doughty champion of the later French Baroque, cultivating credible performing methods and unearthing undeservedly neglected repertoire. … "Les Boreades" recorded in 1982. Viewed by many as one of the greatest of Rameau's operas, the score is both dramatically effective and a riot of orchestral colour. Gardiner conducts with a real feeling for the way in which instrumental timbre underpins the drama, while in a strong cast Philip Langridge is both stylish and superbly theatrical as Abaris." – Jan Smaczny, BBC Music Magazine
As Rameau wrote in his treatise on harmony, “A good musician should surrender himself to all the characters he wishes to portray, and like a skillful actor, put himself in the speaker’s shoes.” Regardless of the means used to achieve this, the composer uses music and the interplay of harmony to convey feeling. This album on the Analekta label features bass-baritone Philippe Sly and soprano Hélène Guimette accompanied by musicians from Clavecin en concert under the direction of Luc Beauséjour.