Rameau: Dardanus, orchestral suite (CD review)

Also, Le Temple de la Glorire, instrumental music. Jeanne Lamon, Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. Tafelmusik Media TMK1012CD.

Jean Philippe Rameau (1683-1764) is the eighteenth-century French composer and musical theorist who took up music late in life and turned the operatic world upside down with his then-revolutionary ideas. Some critics greeted his first opera, Hippolyte et Aricie, with scepticism, but they came eventually to accept it. By the time the two operas represented on this disc--Dardanus and Le Temple de la Glorire--rolled around, the composer had well established his reputation.

What we have on the present album are not the complete operas, of course, but a selection of instrumental music from the operas, suites if you will, compiled by conductor Jeanne Lamon for her Tafelmusik Baroque Orchestra. It represented the first time Ms. Lamon and Tafelmusik had recorded music of the French baroque period.

The individual pieces on the program comprise overtures, airs, minuets, gigues, gavottes, and the like, and they represent a fair sampling of Rameau’s many varied moods and styles. Needless to say, Tafelmusik, playing on period instruments and in historical style, perform them with the ensemble’s usual efficiency, refinement, and precision. More important, Tafelmusik play with verve; that is, their enthusiasm always shows, making these works more than a collection of museum pieces but brilliant, vibrant music that comes alive for the listener.

I have no idea if Ms. Lamon’s switch some years ago from Sony Classical to CBC Records (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) and then more recently to their own label benefited Tafelmusik in terms of distribution and monetary reward; I know the big record labels had to drop a lot of their artists for financial reasons. I also know the switch benefitted the listener because Ms. Lamon and Tafelmusik’s recordings for CBC and now Tafelmusik Media have been consistently good.

The music, originally recorded by CBC in 2001 and re-released here on Tafelmusik Media, sounds as good as ever. The sonics remain crisp, open, clean, and entirely natural, set against the backdrop of an entirely lifelike acoustic. Indeed, the quality of the recording rivals my longtime favorite Rameau recording, Hippolyte et Aricie with La Petite Bande on EMI Deutsche Harmonia Mundi.  It’s that good.


JJP
To listen to a brief excerpt from this album, click here:


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John J. Puccio

John J. Puccio

About the Author

I've been listening to classical music most of my life, starting with the classical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first classical recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor. Today, I'm retired from teaching and using a pair of VMPS RM40s. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (moviemet.com, formerly DVDTOWN) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job.

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