Ombre de mon amant is Anne Sofie von Otter's first recording of these French Baroque Arias–graceful, temperamental tunes which will delight her fans and thrill Baroque music cognoscenti. Von Otter's mastery of diverse musical genres, crystalline diction and exquisite musicality empower her interpretations of French repertoire. Her celebrated Offenbach album and album of rarities by Chaminade are previous examples of her success in the French repertory. Every bit a woman of the theater as she is of song, von Otter embodies Charpentier's Médée and Rameau's Phèdre in Hippolyte et Aricie in the grand manner in which they were surely performed originally. Von Otter is partnered by William Christie and his matchless ensemble, Les Arts Florissants, who bring exuberant energy and theatrical flair to every track.
Is it fair to say that most born Frenchmen have considered themselves exceedingly fortunate in their nativity? Moi? I didn't enjoy such luck. Neither did Jean-Baptiste Lully, the favorite of Louis XIV and thus the tyrant of French music for thirty-four years. Lully was born in Florence in 1632, but carried to France as a youthful Ganymede; he entered the service of the Sun King in 1653 as a dancer, and he rose to a position of monopoly influence in Louis XIV's court despite his flagrant debauchery and libertine sexuality. Just as Louis declared, that 'he was the State,' Lully could well have said "French Music, it's me!"
Underappreciated in his own time, Johann Sebastian Bach has ascended to Olympian heights in the estimation of generations of music lovers. But what is it about his music that makes it great? Composer and musicologist Robert Greenberg helps you hear the extraordinary sweep of Bach's music and understand his compositional language—whether you're a devoted admirer or a casual listener.
Here's a second release from Brilliant Classics of the Neapolitan musician Francesco Mancini (1672–1737), a leading light in his city's culture of composition and education as director of the Conservatorio di S Maria di Loreto, maestro of the Royal Chapel and composer of 29 operas and more than 200 cantatas. His modern reputation largely rests on his recorder sonatas (available on 94058); the new release extends our knowledge of that cheerful aesthetic to his recorder concertos, in similarly sprightly, periodinstrument performances by young musicians with a background in this repertoire.
The lighter music of the splendid French Baroque remains in need of greater exposure, making this disc of cantatas by the young Jean-Philippe Rameau and André Campra a welcome arrival. Here is some of the music the royals and aristocrats heard not in halls of opera and ballet but in more intimate surroundings, for amusement, with one or two singers and a small instrumental grouping.