Let's not waste time: get this for soprano Lucy Crowe's voice, for her performance of "What passion cannot Music raise", for her "The soft complaining flute"–and don't forget the glorious "But oh! What art can teach". Okay–just get this for the magnificent Crowe, whose golden, ringing tone and impeccable, uninhibited technique sets Handel's arias ablaze in vibrant, scintillating glory, relegating any recorded competition to second-class status. (Listen to that long-held, stratospheric note in the final chorus, on the words "The trumpet shall be heard on high"–on high, indeed; it seems like Crowe could have sustained it forever!) To sing Handel requires technical ease and comfort, range and unreserved explicatory ability–and in this, and in her complete habitation of the world of Handelian style Lucy Crowe is unsurpassed.
Hippolyte et Aricie was Rameau's first surviving lyric tragedy and is perhaps his most durable, though you wouldn't know it from the decades we had to wait for a modern recording. Now there are two: this one, conducted by Marc Minkowski, and William Christie's version on Erato. Choosing between the two is tough. Minkowski uses a smaller and probably more authentic orchestra, and with the resulting leaner sound, the performance has more of a quicksilver quality accentuated by Minkowski's penchant for swift tempos. His cast is excellent. The central lovers in the title are beautifully sung by two truly French voices, soprano Véronique Gens and especially the light, slightly nasal tenor of Jean-Paul Fourchécourt. In the pivotal role of the jealous Phèdre, Bernarda Fink is perfectly good but not in the exalted league of Christie's Lorraine Hunt. So there's no clear front-runner, but anyone interested in French Baroque opera must have at least one.–David Patrick Stearns
Jean-Joseph Cassanéa de Mondonville, violinist of the royal chapel and just a bit younger than Rameau, is one of those French composers of the late Baroque generally relegated to the summary paragraph in historical surveys. His music is not terribly common on recordings, and the Brilliant label's resurrection of this late-'90s recording on Archiv, despite dreadful sound, is welcome.
Under the direction of the principal conductor and artistic director of the Salzburg Mozart Week, Mark Minkowski, the Musiciens du Louvre perform on two of Mozart’s original instruments. Mozart’s Violin Concerto and his Piano Concerto in A major are played on instruments that were once in the composer’s possession. Thibault Noally plays the Violin Concerto on a violin from the workshop of Pietro Antonio Dalla Costa and “conjures up Romantic brilliance from the well maintained instrument”, then Francesco Corti brings Mozart’s fortepiano to life again, thereby spreading “collective Mozart happiness all round” (Salzburger Nachrichten).
Paris-based writer Andrew Hussey travels through the glorious art and surprising history of an extraordinary French institution to show that the story of the Louvre is the story of France.
The opera Platée by Jean Philippe Rameau is not just a comic opera but an opera in which the Gods of Olympus play a part. With his tragedies lyriques Jean Baptiste Lully had banned all comical characters from the opera, and musical comedies had become unfashionable. Thanks to works by André Campra and Jean-Joseph Mouret, however, the genre had not disappeared completely, and Rameau made his own contribution with Platée.
Do you dream of exploring the masterpieces of the Louvre Museum in Paris? Whether you're planning your first visit to this world-class museum, returning for a second look, or simply playing the role of armchair art critic, you'll enjoy the pleasures that await you in this tour of France's greatest treasures.