Derived from the "RCA Victor" period of the violinist, this collection dates from 1970 and presents the sympathetic quartet of Grappelli, made up of collaborators entirely dedicated to the art of the violinist. Marc Hammeler (piano) is inventive, Jack Sewing (double bass) has a warm sound, and Kenny Clarke, on drums, unveils a talent already known. He even joins a piano to accompany Grappelli on a very beautiful "Body and Soul".
The story of rival factions, divine interventions, and love triumphing over obstacles political and personal clearly inspired some of Rameau's most adventurous musical evocations (just one example might be the fascinating harmonic language he uses to depict a magician commanding an eclipse). It's this spirit of daring experiment that Rameau expert Marc Minkowski relishes throughout this magnificent, high-octane, deftly tailored account. He fires the authentic-instrument group Les Musiciens du Louvre into his customary whiplash speeds, which are just perfect for the air of martial excitement that prevails, while the many dance-centered numbers have a muscular grace. The result in general is some of his best work to date on disc, with a special emphasis on the through line of the score. The cast is spectacular–young in demeanor, passionate, and superbly fluent in the idiom. Consider the vocal acting of Véronique Gens as the conflicted heroine Iphise (in love with her father's enemy), with its rich emotional involvement; there's an exciting chemistry between her and the title hero John Mark Ainsley, who gently tapers his vibrato into a beautifully nuanced tenor–now forlorn and outcast, now assertively heroic. Less satisfying is Laurent Naouri's inconsistently projected lower range as the antihero Anténor. The chorus has been beautifully prepared. For this recording, Minkowski uses Rameau's original 1739 version, with some interpolations of especially compelling material from the slimmed-down 1744 revision. (Thomas May)
This truly is the most beautiful album the Czech label Indies has released, in every way. First, the music: The result of a group effort, the songs are filled with haunting melodies, refined string arrangements (violin, viola, cello) counterbalanced by a visceral approach to rhythm (only hand percussion and shouts), and intricate vocal interplay among the five members, all singers.