Pinchgut Opera, based in Sydney and founded in 2002, specializes in Baroque and Classical opera, featuring works such as Semele, The Fairy Queen, Idomeneo, and Orfeo. One of its more obscure repertoire choices is Marc-Antoine Charpentier's 1688 David & Jonathan. It's a work that's rarely performed or recorded, so this fine performance is revelatory.
In 1672, Lully purchased a royal privilege (or license) from Pierre Perrin to establish the Académie Royale de Musique, for the performance of French operas in Paris. Soon thereafter he and his associates pursued a dual course of activity, setting up similar institutions in other French cities, and securing a series of royally granted patents and ordinances to prevent other entrepreneurs from doing the same. Lully also made sure that his were the only operas to be given in effect, securing a national monopoly on operatic music.
Anyone who appreciates the richness of Spanish music (be it traditional flamenco or the popular "flamenco rock" of the 1970s, '80s and '90s) can't help but take notice when an album is titled Madrid. This effort by guitarist Marc Antoine was recorded with the so-called "smooth jazz" market in mind. Imagine the most laid-back recordings of Earl Klugh, Lee Ritenour, or Grant Geissman having Spanish overtones, and you can get an idea what Antoine sounds like on such lightweight tunes as "Jazzenco," "Plaza Mayor," and "Sunland." Antoine's albums may have wound up in the jazz bins, but this CD is would be more at home in "new age with a beat.
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.
The instrumental works of Marc-Antoine Charpentier are familiar to very few people. A large number of them were composed for use in churches, the most famous of these being the Messe pour plusieurs instruments au lieu des orgues that has already been recorded by Jean Tubéry and La Fenice for Ricercar (RIC 245). Charpentier composed the Sonate à huit around 1685, at a time when various private musical societies were exploring the Italian sonata style. Charpentier discovered this style at the same time as François Couperin, who also set about composing sonatas in the Italian style. Charpentier’s Sonate à huit blends the Italian style with the French suite of dances and as such is one of the masterpieces of instrumental music of the French baroque. The symphonies Pour un Reposoir were intended to accompany an outdoor procession, an organ naturally not being available. The greater part of the CD, however, is taken up by the Noëls pour les Instruments which Charpentier set for instrumental ensemble and organ. We have also recorded the original versions of the above-mentioned Christmas carols, complete with their many verses as they appeared in French collections published at the beginning of the 18th century. This recording of Christmas music can be enjoyed throughout the year!