Written in 1797, Cherubini's faithful version of Euripides' ancient tragedy is one of the most savage and powerful works of the opera repertoire, relating the cruel vengeance of a wounded woman for whom infanticide seems to be the only solution to her humiliation in love. As a continuation of Gluck's music, Cherubini's work is of boundless emotion, at once a refined, terrifying and desperate portent of a tragic outcome.
Making full use of Drottningholm Theatre's unique 17th century Baroque theatre machinery, as well as his deep creative understanding of the profound drama of the work, stage director Pierre Audi creates a production of Zoroastre that completely accords with the spirit of Rameau. True to the form of the tragédie lyrique, choreographer Amir Hosseinpour's dances perfectly match the weight and meaning of both plot and music. The ensemble, Les Talens Lyriques, reinforced with musicians from the Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra and Chorus, is expertly and passionately led into the musical stratosphere by musical director Christophe Rousset. This intensely dramatic production is captured live in vibrant High Definition video and true surround sound.
Scipione was the eighth complete opera Handel wrote for the Royal Academy of Music (it was also preceded by Muzio Scevola, of which Handel wrote only act III). Completed in 1726, it followed three of Handel’s greatest operas, Giulio Cesare, Tamerlano, and Rodelinda. While it is not on the level of those masterpieces, and despite its hasty composition, it contains much that is good and worthy of an occasional hearing.
FANFARE: Ron Salemi
The plot to Il burbero di buon cuore was taken from a 1771 play by Goldoni, Le bourru bienfaisant. As with all of Goldoni’s mature comedies, stereotypes of commedia dell’arte and old Roman farce are humanized with vivid personal detail. Thus, the Bartolo-like antagonist, Ferramondo, isn’t a conventional blusterer, but a kindly, well-intentioned man who is easily irritated and possesses a hair-trigger temper. His niece, Angelica, is too frightened to do more than equivocate before her uncle. This, of course, only drives him quickly up a wall… Barry Brenesal
This recording by fine French harpsichordist Christophe Rousset exposes some music from beyond the famous names of the French Baroque. The central attraction is a pair of suites and three characteristic pieces by Louis Marchand, an organist at Versailles who is famous in musical history for having supposedly ducked an organ duel with J.S. Bach. His two suites recorded here were composed in 1702 and 1706, and thus are almost contemporary with the early Rameau Suite in A minor (1706), from his first book of keyboard suites. All the suites consist of a rhythmically free, quasi-improvised prelude followed by a series of stylized dances; three short character pieces by Marchand are also included as a sort of entr'acte.
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.
hristophe Rousset's first recording for Aparte, devoted to Louis Couperin, was received enthusiastically by public and critics alike and collected many distinctions in the international press, including a BBC Music Magazine Instrumental Choice. Since then he has continued to delight and excel both as harpsichordist and as director of Les Talens Lyriques. Now at the peak of his maturity, the artist presents Bach' musical testament: the Well-Tempered Clavier. Written 20 years after the first volume, Book II contains the musical and spiritual legacy of the composer. Christophe Rousset plays these pieces on the 1628 Ruckers harpsichord of Antwerp, one of the best examples of its kind in the world.