This is an attractive programme of comparatively rare vocal repertoire. Airs de cour by Charpentier (including verses from Corneille’s Le Cid) and Lambert are interpersed with instrumental movements from Couperin’s Les Nations. Cyril Auvity is an experienced advocate of the haute-contre repertoire and draws on all that experience to engage fully with the texts of these miniature dramas. His tone in the higher register can verge on the harsh, though this is a rare event.
In this new release, Vincent Dumestre’s Le Poème Harmonique once again immerses us in the France of the second half of the 16th century, which witnessed the emergence of new centres of artistic activity. These ‘bourgeois’ societies were initiated by patron princes concerned with building their prestige through the arts and letters just as much as by arms. At the same time, refined circles held by cultivated women enabled them to rub shoulders with the leading poets of the time, as well as musicians sensitive to humanist research, all profiting from a context propitious to the invention of new artistic forms and practices.
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.
The works of the French lutenist and composer Charles Tessier give evidence of his vast curiosity and extensive travels in the years around 1600. His Premier livre de chansons & airs de cour tant en françois qu'en italien et en gascon à 4 & 5 parties appeared in London in 1597 with a preface in Italian; the title-page refers to him as musitien de la Chambre du Roy (i.e. musician to Henri IV of France).
When musicians of our generation seek to provide musical depictions of the pilgrimages to St. James of Compostela, they turn most frequently to the Middle Ages. The La Fenice ensemble, however, has chosen a different approach by taking a map of the Camino Francès (1648) as its inspiration. Here they bring formal as well as popular repertoire of the time back to life with songs both sacred and secular, combining these with the joyfully festive music that accompanied the travellers from France to Galicia via Languedoc, Aragon and Castile.